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1 C O P I K S, EOYA L T A V 


\ ■ 

F F I C E 11 S 


3Long Jslani ?i)istoiical Society. 



First Vice-President, JOHN GREENWOOD. 

Second Vice-President, CHARLES E. WEST. 

Foreign Corresponding Secretary, - - HENRY C. MURPHY. 
Home Corresponding Secretary, - - - JOHN WLNSLOW. 
Recording Secretary, - CHAUNCEY L. MITCHELL. 

Treasurer,- - MILAN HULRERT. 

Librarian, - GEORGE HANNAH. 














1 : X E C V 1 1 V E CO M M 1TTEE 

R. S. STORKS, Jr., D.D., Chairman. 



GEORGE HANNAH, Secretary. 


Kings County : Queens County : 







Suffolk County : 





















' IM ODORK GILL, .... 


















E. B. O'CALL VtrRAN, . . - 






Philadelphia, Pa. 

- Providence, /,'. 7. 

New York. 

- Providence, R. 1. 

- Boston, Mas*. 
Hartford, CI. 

New York. 

- New York, 

. Buffalo. 

- Harvard Coll "• • 


- Cambridge, Mass. 

New York. 

Boston, Mass. 

. Botlon, Mass. 

- New York. 
• Boston, Mass. 

- New Orleans, La. 
Washington. D. V. 

Boston, Mass. 

East Greenwich, II. 1. 

Boston, Mass. 

Philadelphia, Pa. 

.- Worcester, Mass. 

Washington, P. C. 

- New York. 
- Greenwich, England. 

- New York. 
New Y rk. 

- Fas! Guilford, Ct. 

- Poughkeepsie. 

- Philadelphia, Pa. 

Baltimore, Md. 

- New York. 

- Boston, Muss. 
St. Paul, M'tn. 

- Alba' y. 

- J(X . 

Worcester, M ■• ■■ 

Boston, Mass. 

. Boston, 1/ • -. 

- Ntwtirl i ■ 


NICOLAS PIKE, - -U.S. Consul, Mauritius. 

REV. S. IRENAEUS PRIME, D.D., x>u: York. 


WTCTflROP SARGENT, - - - - . . New York. 


JOHN G. SHEA, - - ... Kew Yor k. 

BUCKINGHAM SMITH, St. Augustine, Fa. 




REV. JOHN WADDINGTON, D.D.,- - - - London, Eng 

HON. EMORY WASHJBURN, Cambridge, Mass. 

HON. ANDREW 1). WHITE, Ithaca. 


_ HON. WILLIAM WILLIS, Portland, Me. 

HON, ROBERT C. WLNTHROP, - - - - - Boston, Mass. 

THOMAS II. WYNNE, ... . Eichmond, Ya. 


The Directors of the Long Island Historical Society have great 
pleasure in presenting to the members of that institution, and to all 
interested in historical research, the second volume of the Memoirs 
oi" the Society. The subject treated in it is one of peculiar and 
permanent interest, not only to those connected by birth or resi- 
dence with Long Island, but to all students of American History. 
And it must be regarded as a fortunate circumstance that the col- 
lection of Documents connected with the Revolutionary movements 
on thin island, and the preparation of the extended and graphic 

■ f&uetory Narrative which in great part is founded upon these 
Documents, have been committed to hands so diligent and so capa- 
ble as those the result of whose labors is here presented. 

It is of course not to be expected that all the views, of men and 
of their actions, which are set forth by Mr. Field, in his vigorous 
and eloquent Introduction, will command the assent of all readers of 
the volume. But the Directors arc confident that even those who 
may differ from him most widely will recognize the zeal which has 
animated his efforts, the industry which has marked them, and the 
kindness of spirit, and the general good judgment, by which they 
have been guided. If, at any points, his conclusions in regard to 
the important yet sometimes obscure events which have furnished 
his theme should be found to be erroneous, the Documents, to which 
his Narrative is introductory, will probably supply the means for 
the proof and illustration of the fact. 


The Directors rejoice to believe that, by the publication of this 
volume, those now living in the populous and prosperous city over 
whose then scarcely occupied territory the tide of battle once surged 
and swung, will find a fresh interest attaching hereafter to localities 
that have hitherto seemed commonplace, and will feel more deeply 
at how great a price, of heroism and of lift*, their present heritage 
of liberty and of peace was purchased for them. 

Since the first volume of the Memoirs of the Society was pub- 
lished, in 1867, .the institution, which was then just completing the 
fourth year of its existence, lias steadily advanced, in the number 
of its members, in the amount of its funds, and in the extent, variety, 
and value of its collections. 

It numbers at present 800 life members, 958 annual members, 
with 59 honorary and corresponding members. 

Its Library has been increased by numerous additions, many of 
them rare and costly; and it now contains more than seventeen 
thousand volumes, with more than nineteen thousand unbound 
volumes and pamphlets. As a collection for general use, in the 
way of reference and consultation, it ranks already among the best 
in the State, It is especially rich in the departments of American 
History and Biography, Trench .History, the history of Fine Art, 
of the Natural Sciences, and of the Science and Art of Medicine. 
Its range, however, is very wide, an4 students in almost any depart- 
ment of research will find something in it to reward their attention, 
and to assist their efforts. 

To the Medical department of the Library large additions have 
been made, duiing the year past, through the liberal contributions 
of members of the Kings County Medical Society, aud through the 
gift, by Mrs. De Witt 0. Enos, of the large and well selected library 
of her deceased husband, a distinguished and lamented physician 
in the city. 


Mrs. Maria Gary Las added to our permanent funds the sum of 
twenty-five hundred dollars, the interest of whichis to be applied to 
maintain and enlarge the department of American Biography, in 
memory of her husband, the late Mr. William II. Cary. 

Original copies of the Musce Franc, ais, the Ma.^6e Royal, the 
Orleans Gallery, the Madrid Gallery, with many other extensive 
and costly illustrated- works, have been added to our collections in 
the department of Fine Art. 

The catalogue of the Library has been completed, and whatever 
is to be found upon our shelves is thus brought within the easy 
reach of any who may seek it. 

Valuable contributions have at the same time been ruade to the 
Museum of the Society, of relics and memorials, specimens of na- 
tural history, paintings and curiosities ; and a collection of ancient 
and modern coins and medals has been gathered and presented, by 
Mr. Charles Storrs. 

The .Manuscript collections of the Society have been greatly en- 
riched in the two years past, especially by two very important 
additions : the iiist, of an extended series of letters of the Revolu- 
tionary period, covering the years 1773 to. 1790 ; and the second, of 
a series of 123 original letters of Washing! on, written while he was 
residing as President at Philadelphia, and relating principally to 
the management of his estates during his absence from the:-. 

The letters last named abound in curious details, illustrating tli e 
times, and the character of the writer. They had been collected 
by the Hon. Edward Everett, who valued them highly, and intended 
to annotate and publish them. After his death, they were pur- 
chased for this Society, and presented to it, by its president, Mr. 
James Carson Brevoort. 

The collection previously mentioned had been made, and to some 
extent annotated, by Mr. W. Gilmore Simms. of South Carolina. It 


is embraced in five large volumes, and contains a large part of the 
correspondence of Henry Laurens, Esq., president of the Conti- 
nental Congress, and of his brilliant and accomplished son, Col. 
John Laurens, with many interesting letters from Richard Henry 
Lee, John Adams, John Jay, Generals Gates, Lincoln, And Wayne, 
Lord Stirling, Baron Steuben, and others. This collection was pur- 
chased from Mr. Simms, and presented to the Society, by Messrs. 
A. A. Low, H. E. Pierrepont, J. C. Brevoort, 0. S. Stephenson, 
S. B. Chittenden, Henry Sheldon, P. R. Fowler, J. P. Robinson, 
Milan Hulbert, Charles Storrs, F. Woodruff, C. Delano Wood, 
James IT. Prentice, Joseph Battell, Henry Sanger, Alfred S. Barnes, 
John C. Barnes, and Charles J. Lowrey. 

■It is proposed by the Directors to publish, in future volumes of 
the Memoirs of the Society, the more important and interesting 
portions of these very valuable manuscript collections. 

Since the publication of the volume which preceded this, Mr. Ed- 
wards S. Sanford has added another gift, oi^ one thousand dollars, to 
the two thousand dollars which, he had previously given, to constitute 
our Publication Fund; and it is from the avails of this fund that the 
Directors have derived the means for the publication of the present 
volume, as of that which appeared before it. Those, therefore, who 
shall read these, with interest and advantage, will have occasion 
gratefully to remember the wise liberality of the founder of the 

An eligible and ample building site has been secured for the 
Society, through the liberality of some of its members, who contri- 
buted for this purpose more than twenty thousand dollars. And it 
is confidently hoped that before another of the volumes in thisseries 
shall appear there will have been erected upon this site a Building, 
suitable and sufficient for all the uses of the institution ; within which 
its meetings may be conveniently held, while its collection of boobs, 


manuscripts, art-works, and memorials, shall be safely housed and 
attractively exhibited. 

The Directors congratulate the members and friends of the Society 
on the progress which has thus been realized by it; and they hope 
that the volume which they now send forth will serve to make the 
aims and work of the institution more widely known, as well as in 
some measure to advance that delightful and quickening branch 
of study, for the culture of which it was established, and in aiding 
whose progress it is always to find its ollice and its reward. 

Bbooklyk, N. Y., September 1, 1869. 








1 S G . 

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 18G9, by 

Thomas W. Field, 

For the Long Island Historical Society, 

In the District Court of the United States for the Southern District 

of New York. 



Preface v 

Revolutionary Measures Resisted, - - - 1 

Expeditions against the Loyalists or Queens County. 41 

Partisan Warfare and Loyalist Leaders, - - S2 

TfiK [nvasion, - - 122 

Uatxles of Flatrusij, Go wanus and Brooklyn, 152 

S foe or Brooklyn, 20G 

The Up/treat, 259 

General Nathaniel Woodhull, 2SS 

Documents, 313 

List of Documents, 535 

In hen, - 530 

List or Illustrations, 517 


There were many events of dramatic interest 
occurring during the Revolution ary struggle for 
Independence by the thirteen United Colonies, con- 
stituting the fairest portion of the British empire in 
North America. This was especially the case on 
Long Island; where strong partisan feeling had to be 
encountered and resisted, in the preparations for repel- 
the invasion of the forces sent hither by the 
A »thvr Country. The loyalists dared much in the 
-. of English interests; and their name was at 
i la.- time rendered infamous among the ardent and 
finally successful advocates of the cause of Independ- 
ence. Many incidents, tragical in their results, were 
rendered still more sad to the friends of the chief 
suilerers by the mystery surrounding them at the 
lime, and by the whispered details of outrage and 
seizure among the hitherto quiet farms and hamlets 
of the Island, on the western extremity of which the 
first open battle of the Revolution was fought. 

That b;t. i tie, while one of the most remarkable and 
important in the war of the Revolution, has been less 
thorou lily cinderstoodj and less clearly desc 


than many others; and even those who have care- 
fully studied it have not always succeeded in grasping 
or in exhibiting those points in it which were really 
critical and characteristic. To present to others the 
aspects of the battle which were most prominently 
before my own mind was one principal aim which I 
had in view in entering on the preparation of the 
present volume. 

Another motive which has influenced me, as I have 
proceeded, has been the desire to do at least a partial 
and tardy justice to a class of men whose earnest but 
defeated efforts against the Revolution have involved 
them ever since in what I must regard as an excessive 
and undue odium. 

The more narrowly 1 have scanned the lives and 
sentiments of those who chose to link their fortunes 
with their allegiance to the King, the fainter have 
grown the obnoxious features with which republican 
zeal and traditional prejudice have usually portrayed 
the Tories. 

I have found a sell-devotion in the adherents ol 
Royalty, that rivalled the glorious personal sacrifices 
of our Whig ancestors; deeds of heroism, that the 
patriot fathers would have gloried to emulate ; refine- 
ments of education, adorning the noblest intellects ; 
and the graces of Christianity, stimulating the loftiest 
fidelity to religion and honor. 

PREFACE. y {[ 

A century of Late is more than enough ; and tin re 
is surely now no possible danger to republican doc- 
trines, in iiii unprejudiced examination of the attend- 
ing and extenuating circumstances of loyalty to the 
< Irown in 1 770. 

1 have not been insusceptible, either, to the senti- 
ment that it is not less praiseworthy to moderate na- 
tional than individual prejudice, or to do justice to 

• memory of a class, than to the iniured character 
<«i a person. 

if 1 have therefore said anything to soften the as- 
ties of national rancor, or to relieve from antipathy 

clasH of citizens respectable for private virtues, and 

' m >xious for ex< rcising the inalienable right of 

titMil and religious opinions, I shall feel a sufficient 

•nipensation for the long hours of search and labor, 

which a more facile pen, and a better judgment, might 

Lave abridged. 

That the narrative of warfare on Long Island 
might be made as complete as possible, every avail- 
able source of information has been examined. The 
mythic details of tradition, and the meagre out- 
lines of official documents, have been investigated 
and compared, to secure fidelity to historic truth. 
Parliamentary records, and Congressional reports, 
journals of Provincial assemblies and committee.- of 
safety, private letters and public documents, narra- 



lives of private soldiers, and reports of general officers, 
histories, subsequent and contemporaneous, have all 
been earnestly studied, in order that every incident 
of value or interest might be combined into a con- 
tinuous narration. 

Most of these sources of information form a part of 
this volume, and are printed entire in its closing part- 
It only remains for me to render my acknowledg- 
ments to those who truly deserve credit, for most of 
what ma} 7 be deemed meritorious in this work. The 
first suggestion of it is due to Mr. Henry Onder- 
donk, Jr., of Jamaica, whose life has been devoted to 
the preservation of the incidents of partisan warfare on 
our Island. It is not too much to say that the work 
could not have been accomplished, except for the aid 
of his labors and research. His work, on the Revolu- 
tionary Incidents of Long Island, has preserved, or 
indicated the existence of, sufficient material to form 
several volumes like the present. The generosity of 
the earnest scholar, and the true gentleman, was never 
more apparent, than in the hearty satisfaction shown 
on seeing his own life-task merged into ibis present 

I cannot permit this preface to close without ex- 
pressing my surprise at the tenderness and generosity 
with which the Executive Committee of the Historical 
Society have treated what now seems io me to have 


Ijcen so feeble and incomplete an exposition of the 
interesting subject it seeks to elucidate; How much 
the work owes to the Rev. Dr. R. S. Storrs, Jr., who 
performed the tedious service of correcting and revis- 
the proofs, happily none but the printer and the 
author can ever know. 

Through the attention of Mr. f William L. Stone, I 
was able to procure from Germany an original manu- 
script map of the battle-ground, by a Hessian officer, 
which affords us some new and interesting particulars. 
By the photolithographic process this memento of that 
ir^n^ day has been perfectly reproduced, in fac 

Thomas W. Field. 

l>aos»Ki,YN, N. Y. 
August 28, 1869. 



Revolutionary Measures Resisted. 

The influence of national and social characteristics, in 
Ling or retarding the progress of revolutionary sen- 
.. . i ts, was strikingly illustrated by the events occurring 
on Long Island in the year 1775. The tide of emigration 
•; had peopled the plains of Suffolk county, had flowed 
: ■ ■-.. ilie Xew England shores. Almost midway of the 
I, it had been met by the advancing wave of popula- 
u oni New York 3 when the Xew England current was 
•> •;"■ ted, and passed along the northern shore of Queens 
county. The wave from Xew England reached as far as 
Flushing; while that from Yew York swept past that point, 
upon the southern plains, to the east of Hempstead. The 
turbulent and the placid streams of population never min- 
gled, and even at this day retain the characteristics of the 
sources from which they sprang, or of the hinds through 
which they flowed. 

The strong impulses of the Puritan were moderated by 
education, and restrained by a somewhat unnatural self- 
control; yet his spirit was at times revealed in a fierce 
energy, that scorned and overleaped these artificial bonds. 


On the other hand, the self-content of the descendants of the 
Hollander, which gave them the sensuous characteristic 
usually termed phlegm, easily blended with the egotistic 
self-appreciation of the English emigrants, which they 
denominated loyally; so that both these elements of 
population, though animated by widely different motives, 
united in the desire of preserving the old government. 
Thus, while the towns along the northern shore readily 
kindled in sympathetic glow with, the !New England flame, 
those on the southern side of Queens county remained cold 
and impassive. 

The first meeting of the citizens of that county, in re- 
sponse to the general sentiment of alarm which pervaded 
the country after the passage of the Boston Port bill, was 
held at the inn of Increase Carpenter, near the present 
village of Brush ville. Marked by so important an event. 
as being the birth-place of the "Revolution on Long Island, 
this inn became memorable as the scene of another tragic 
event, which here closed the local struggle for liberty. 1 

The descendants of a little colony of Xew Englanders, 
grouped around this spot, early felt the revolutionary 
fever in their veins. Meeting casually at this inn, or per- 
haps impelled thither by a common motive, a number of 
persons requested the town constable, Othniel Smith, to 
notify the freeholders to meet at the Court House, in 
Jamaica, for the purpose of taking public affairs into con- 

2 This structure still remains, nearly in the same condition as at tbe period 
of these events, in the possession of a grandson of the revolutionary pro- 
prietor. It was while Seeking shelter here that Gen. Woodhull fell, beneath 
the sabres of Delancey's troopers. 


In accordance with this call, a meeting of the freeholders 
and Inhabitants convened at the appointed place, Decem- 
ber 6th, 1774, when a series of resolutions was agreed upon, 
which at the same time expressed the most fervent loyalty 
io the King, and the heartiest detestation and abhorrence 
of the oppressive acts of parliament, A committee of 
correspondence and observation was also appointed, whose 
functions were well expressed by its titles. 1 

It is evident, however, from subsequent events, as well 
as from the burden of some of the resolutions, that their 
spirit was far from being the general sentiment. Aroused 
by the vigorous tone of the resolves of their neighbors, 
which blended loyalty and rebellion in such vehement 
terms, one hundred and thirty-six opponents of liberal 
opinions signed, on the 19th of January, 1775, a state- 
ment, averring that the resolutions were expressive of 
the sentiments of only a small number of the citizens of 
Jamaica. 2 

'These resolutions were published in Gaines Mercury of that week, and 
are printed in full, with other particulars, in Onderdonk's Revolutionary 
Incidents of Queens County. 

2 " J amatca, Jan. 27, 1775. — Whereas a few people in this town have taken 
upon themselves the name of a committee, said to be chosen by a majority 
of the inhabitants, we, the subscribers, freeholders, and inhabitants of the 
said township, do think it our duty to declare, that we never gave our con- 
sent towards choosing 1 that committee, or making any resolves, as we utterly 
disapprove of all unlawful meetings, and all tyrannical proceedings what- 
soever; and as we have always been, so it is our firm resohxtion to continue, 
peaceable and faithful subjects to bis present majesty, Kino- George the 
Third, our most gracious sovereign ; and we do further declare, that we do 
not acknowledge any other representatives but the general assembly of this 
province ; by whose wisdom and interposition we hope to obtain the wished 
redress, of our grievances in a constitutional way." 

This protest was signed by one hundred and thirty-six respectable inhabit- 
ants of the town, ninety-one of whom were freeholders, — the whole number 
of the latter in the town being estimated not to exceed one hundred and 


The seeds of internecine warfare were thus sown; and 
the ardor of partisan zeal was certain to quicken their 
germination. The parties were not, however, fairly ar- 
rayed against each other until the 31st of March, the day 
appointed by the New York provincial committee for the 
election of delegates to a Convention. One hundred and 
sixty-nine freeholders voted, of whom ninety-four (a ma- 
jority of nine), cast their votes against the election of a 
deputy. Thus the town of Jamaica was fairly committed 
in favor of the royal cause. 

The people of the town of Hempstead, at the same time, 
left no room for doubt regarding the sentiments which 
prevailed there; for, on April 4th, at an assembly of the 
freeholders, called in pursuance of the forms of colonial 
law, resolutions deprecatory of all Conventions, provincial 
Assemblies, and Congresses, were passed without opposi- 
tion. Accordingly, no attempt was made to elect delegates. 
The last of the series of resolutions declares : •'•'That we 
are utterly averse to all mobs, riots, and illegal proceed- 
ings, by which the lives, peace, and property of our fellow 
subjects are endangered ; and that we will, to the utmost of 
our power, support our legal magistrates in suppressing all 
riots, and preserving the peace of our liege sovereign.' 5 
Thus unreservedly the people of Hempstead ranged them- 
selves on the side of the crown and parliament. 

The royalist proclivities of the inhabitants of the north- 
ern towns were scarcely less dominant, although the proxi- 
mity to the Xcw England shores gave greater boldness 
there to the revolutionary spirit. The readiness lor active 
aggression, ou the part of the inhabitants ot^ Xewtown, 
Flushing, and Oyster Bay, was owing also in a nn 


. ace of those - ; ilthy i □ I :.\ 
•' ■:'.-. ms repi - ted ti '".. a - . - 
»eandoi ial dignity held the i 
. • ' .•-;■'•./-.?' ■•'....: 

~ j ■ - - u ■ \ maica and . . 

nrhk-h the; Led during 

M : thaD a rear 5 ihse /: mtly «v . find th . 

• ■ utj -sis ] ers . ..- reside - "<: Queen ;ounty 3 

- till hoi din d ■ - -. . . . t. 7 this li 

■•: j proscribed we 1 >gnize the i - : i . ..- 

:' j Lties which have presen i their mec ... 

im C'i' th .'.. j rti .-. shi has forgot ... In 

or 1 i ' of the i idents of "... 3 revolution ra, tl - . 

m :.. ai : the nob! iraet '- . which t3 .;.- - 2 : 

;•-:.."".;.- ■"■:v i !:: :-\:. " :"" -:=*.:.:• :: :. : ."-:-". 

In ] ' l1 »r, 1774. , . : ttem] was ma I : . " - 
to secure tl arte iai at a bl . ■' . " 
: r of th i " bitants to give >lor )tl ?ta m 

that : ' tty •-:.. ble to i svoluti xaary - 
N • • ithsb ading the vi >rc as efF rts of several - 

• : ; I freeholders, re 1 sting tb 3 i: 3ml iing f the 
at G ;org W -'- ; n, sc smal i i m ibei 

peared, who were believ I to be favorab] t thei . -. 

- - ... . - 1 ■".. I " ch ■... . ' . m\ . 

designs of the revolutionists, ] 1 1 furth 

elect th towi lerk, Saniuel 1 \ - id, their b 
an 1 adj irned to the annual tow ting. 

A royal justice of the pe . I name ha* 

to QSj is, h : wever, record I to hi . •■ exeri 1 1 : .- - 
.. tl >ecasion with the prudence I firmn 
ing : ma jist . i .' I $ ..'... * the impropriety 


of Buch meetings, in so masterly a manner aa to have the 
desired effect of preventing any business being done, till 
the legal day of calling town meeting, on the first Tu( 

in April. During the interval, each party exerted itself to 
the utmost in arousing its adherents for I j-cde that 

would ensue upon that occasion. 

The royalist partisans relied upon their known prepon- 
derance of numbers: and the revolutionists strenuously 
endeavored to compensate for their numerical weakness 
by vehemence and activity. At the town meeting, 
first act of the assembled citizens, in deposing their town 
clerk, and electing Thomas Smith moderator, was indica- 
tive of the prevailin senti After a determined 
struggle, the poll of votes was finished, and two hundred 
and rive freeholders voted against any association with the 
Congress, and onlv forty-two had the temerity to east their 
votes in iis favor. 

This minority of forty-two freeholders, with a subsequent 
addition of one other, was, however, so skilfully manipu- 
lated by some adroit politi< a- as, that Zebulon "Williams 
was received as the representative of the town by the pro- 
vincial Congress. The trade of j Titiei . in I te develop- 
ment of which all the faculties of some of our fellow citizens 
have feci: so carefully educated during . present century, 
was at that period in its infancy. Xurnerous incidents, 
however, prove that even at tl | tod the pro. 
could boast of some able and adroit workmen. 

Warned by the failure of their comrades in the adjoin- 
ing towns, the whig leaders of Flushing avoid alarming 

.3 C ^' «- 

'Thomas Smith, at the previous meeting, had - • athy 

with the whiffs. 


'. . royalists by calling a forma] meeting, and seized the 
■ iion ef a funeral, which was attended by a considerable 
number of their partisans, to elect a town Committee 
of Safety. 1 So well were matters arranged by the whig 
1 tv ugers, that a declaration was obtained from the town 
., John Rodman, that John Talman had been chosen 
deputy by a large majority. The shrewd whigs did not 
} it on record either the number of votes cast, or the 
majority which they claimed; indeed, their statement met 
with no credit even at that time. In these days, when 
political machinery accomplishes such gigantic results, 
and the finesse and management which invest a poor 
minority with the rights and powers of a great people, are 
looked upon as party capital, and reverenced as a sort of 
talent, — even in these days might the engineers of politi- 
cal schemes be envious of the tact and ability of the whig 
politicians of 1775. Of these, none was more- able and 
adroit than Col. Jacob Blackwell, of Newtown. 

In common with others of the whig; leaders throughout 
the colonies. Col. .Blackwell had inherited enough wealth, 
and acquired sufficient education, to make him restive 
under the stiffing control of the paternal government, 
which offered no field for the exercise of the abilities of 
its colonial children. The restrained ambition, and re- 

l! ' There was a funeral in tins town about a fortnight ago winch afforded 
three or four of the furious ' Sons of Liberty' an opportunity of selecting 
as many out of their number who attended the funeral as would suit their 
purpose, which was twenty-five, one-seventh of the freeholders of the town. 
Twelve of these were immediately dubbed committee men ; bur by the 
authority of a single man, who is a friend to order and good govern- 
ment, they were constrained from entering on any business relating to their 
"nice, till the sentiments of all the freeholders were taken upon ii ; which 
when executed will certainly put an cud to their political existence, us it is 
well known the inhabitants are generally againsl it.' - — THi-ington's Gazette. 


pressed talents of the rich and educated colonists, who 
despaired of having a stage upon which to exhibit the 

qualities they were conscious of possessing, contributed as 
much to awaken the discontent which led to the independ- 
ence of these colonies, as all olher motives. 1 The beau- 
tiful island in the East Elver known by his name, and 
many fertile acres around Ballet's cove, were a part of the 
patrimony inherited by Col. Blackwell. 

The organization of the colonial militia, during the 
French and Indian wars, had brought him into such 
prominence that lie was elected captain of a company. 
This, doubtless, only whetted his ambition, which found 
no arena for its exercise during the fifteen years interval 
between the French and revolutionary wars; and, accord- 
ingly, we tin d him first among the agitators against parlia- 
. mentary control in his native town. The French war, by 
one of those strange sequences of events which startle us 
long after their occurrence, was an indispensable prelude 
to the Eevolution of the colonies. It developed and trained 
many of the prominent men by whom that Involution was 
incited and perfected; and we shall see that many of the 
actors in the later scenes on Lono- Island had received 
their inspiration from the lessons of that warfare. 

Col. Flaekweirs position, as commandant of the county 
militia, placed him at the head of the patriot movements, 
and his ambition and zeal preserved his leadership. To 
aid him in organizing the revolutionary element, his 
talent for political finesse, and tact in party artifice, had 

1 It was charged that the first impulse which John Hancock received 
towards revolutionary sentiments, was his resentment at the paternal go- 
vernment's neglect of his abilities. 


u cultivated in the small republic of a county militia, 
in which the privates elected their own officers. How to 
elect a deputy to the provincial Congress, with such 
. I >w of strength as to make it seem the act of the legally 
rencd town electors, was a problem, too difficult for 
niOfft of the revolutionary leaders; but Col. Blackwell 
found its solution. 

He had, ii is true, to deal with a population possessing 
hereditary affinities for republicanism, as their names, 
smacking strongly of puritanic origin, well indicate; and 
for this reason his work was easier. A meeting of the 
citizens of Newtown was appointed as early as Decem- 
ber 10th, 1774; but his forces were well disciplined, and 
the militia, of which he was commander, were doubtless 
thoroughly pledged to be present, and to sustain him and 
his propositions. "With the characteristic shrewdness 
and bad faith of a politician, the repudiated action of 
the few whig citizens of Jamaica was represented as 
" i he series of spirited and well adapted resolves of 
their neighboring townsmen;" and the carefully chosen 
citizens who formed, the assembly at ISTewtown were 
exhorted to act promptly, so as not to be outdone by 
their friends. Of course they determined to pass similar 
"spirited resolves," and adjourned lor a few days, while 
these should be prepared. 

The resolutions presented by the chairman, Col. Black- 
well, at the next meeting, and doubtless prepared by him, 
compose one of the ablest and most compact statements 
of colonial grievances, which were drafted during the pre- 

J .^-.- inker's Aund?* of Newtown, ITU. 



paratory days of the revolutionary struggle. 1 It may uot 
have been the loss carefully prepared because sixty free- 
holders, whose names indicate their Dutch and Scotch 
origin, had signed and published a document vehementh 
protesting against the whole proceeding, and clamorously 
proclaiming their unfaltering loyally. 1 

It is not probable that such an adroit and able nine 
would rest satisfied, however, with mere proclamations; 
for his military experience taught him that nothing must 
be left to hazard which could be provided for by discipline 
and management. We are not, therefore, surprised to 
find, that at the annual town meeting, not one of the sixty 
perverse loyalists cast his vote; nor that one hundred 
whigs voted to send Col. Jacob Blackwell as deputj to 
the provincial Congress. Thus the only town in the 
county that actually elected a delegate to the provincial 
Congress, was carried for the whigs by sharp manage- 
ment, in the success of which the real sentiment of the 
people had, probably, scarcely fair play. 2 

Four of the five towns had given large majorities against 
the revolutionary measures, and it was evident that the 
mass of the people was thoroughly and soundly loyal to 

l JRi Kington s Gan tie, -Jan. 12th, 1775. 

? To those who trace his subsequent history, this estimate of Col. 
well's character will nut appear unwarrantably severe. That lie wasa sincere 
republican is not doubted ; but that he was led by ambitious motivi s s< ems 
probable, when we find him making his peace with Gen. Robertson for the 
purpose of preserving an estate which he feared might be forfeited, and 
enduring all the indignities and fines which were heaped upon him and his 
estate during the British occupancy of the Island, instead of sharing with his 
compatriots the dangers and discomforts of the bat! le-field. Chagrin, of ow 
sort or another, springing, it is said, from pecuniary losses or disappointed 
ambition, did not permit him to see the glory of the disenthralled people 
for whom lie had so arduously labored. 


;.;.•• crown and parliament. Such elements of discord 
. Id noi long exist in a community, without exciting the 
\ nrmest resentment in the minds of the respective par- 
ties; nor could it be long before indignation ripened into 
ed, and the bitter malignity thus engendered became 
too fierce for human control. 

The respectable names of Royalist or Addressor, and 
\\ big or Associator, by which the parties were at first 
distinguished, degenerated into the mocking titles of 

O ' CD O 

[vobel and Tory; long before used in the blood}- party 
straggles of England, and Ireland. It is observable, in 
the history of partisan warfare, that the bandying 
of epithets, which Lave been the former distinctions of 
parties, transfers all the old hatred to the new antagonists. 
It often astonishes us to find such bitter hate, inciting to 
the bloodiest revenge, in fends of recent origin: but we 
:. dl as often find that names are things, to the greatest 
portion of the human race, who accept an epithet as 
representing generations of differences. An epithet was 
sufficient, a century or two ago, to fire an entire sect with 
burning hatred of the wretch against whom some priest 
had hurled the title of ' heretic; ' aval scarcely half a cen- 
tury since, the harmless word c aristocrat,' would doom the 
noblest or the humblest to the remorseless guillotine. 

In the progress of Hie narration of events which pre- 
ceded the Declaration of Independence, we have scan 
that at the period of the meeting of the provincial Con- 
vention, on April 20th, 1775, at the Exchange in the city 
of Xew York, the attitude of the residents of Queens 
county was exceedingly hostile to its designs. Instead of 
delegates, the towns sent addresses deprecating the mea- 


sure? which were understood to be the object of it 
organization. So palpable was the fact that almost the 
entire mass of its inhabitants entertained the strongest 
aversion to revolutionary sentiments, that the provincial 

Congress refused to the persons who assumed to act as 
delegates from Queens county the privilege of voting 
upon the measures upon which they deliberated. These 
delegates thus acknowledged themselves to be representa- 
tives without a constituency. 

The political aspect of Kings county, occupied by a 
population greatly inferior in number to that of Queens, 
was scarcely more satisfactory to the whigs. Although 
the documentary evidence of the transactions of the 
different towns is, from various causes, 1 much less definite 
and satisfactory than in the adjacent counties, there is 
abundant ground for the belief that Kings county entered 
the revolutionary arena with nearly equal reluctance. 

There exists some discrepancy in the dates, given by 
the different authorities, of the first, meeting held in 
Kings county, for the election of delegates. It was not 
until May 20th, 1775, that the magistrates and freeholders 
of Brooklyn met for that purpose; and, although we have 
no means of knowing how general was the attendance, or 
how large was the majority in favor of the Convention, the 
resolutions declarative of its sentiments are sufficiently 

'Tin records of t lie town of Brooklyn were abstracted and carried away by 
some i >:" 1 1 f . gee loyalists, ami although ret urned a few years after, it was 
for the purpose of sjieculalion, and t": : that day neglected t'> 

replevin and recover its archiv s. A fate i befell th records 

of the town of Bushwick. Soonaftertl . u with the city of 

lyn, they were dep >i r > d in a movable book-case in tlu City Hall. Tb 
eas« % was coveted by ?"ii ; ' civic functionary, who turned the precious docu 
nients upon the 11 ■ :. v. nee the janitor transferred them to the ] per 


ded, and expressive of revolutionary tendency. The 
» linutes of that meeting arc so characteristic of the uni- 
form style of expression, and direction of thought, which 
n arked the deliberations of that period, that they are 
transferred to these pages entire. 

"At a general town meeting, regularly warned at Brook- 
lyn, May 20th, 1775, the magistrates and freeholders met, 
and voted Jeremiah Remsen, Esq., into the chair, and 
Leffert LefFerts, Esq., clerk. 

" Taking into our serious consideration the expediency 
and propriety of concurring with the freeholders and free- 
men of the City and County of JSlew York, and the other 
colonies, townships, and precincts within this province, for 
holding a provincial Congress, to advise, consult, watch 
over, and defend, at this very alarming crisis, all our civil 
and religious rights, liberties and privileges, according to 
their collective prudence. 

"After duly considering the unjust plunder, and inhu- 
man carnage, committed on the property and persons of 
our brethren in the Massachusetts, who with the other 
New England colonies are now deemed by the mother 
country to be in a state of actual rebellion, by which de- 
claration England hath put it beyond her own power to 
treat with New England, or to propose or receive any 
terms of reconciliation, until those colonies shall submit as 
a conquered country. The first effort to effect which was 
by military and naval force; the next attempt is to bring 
a famine among them, by depriving them of both their 
natural and acquired right of fishing. 

"Further contemplating the very unhappy situation to 
which the powers at home, by oppressive measure*, have 

14 1NTE0DUC1 lTIVE. 

driven all the other I . ; . ' 

in their power to as they Lave already 

tl j rovincc aiders and abel 

<• 1st 1 . That Henry Wi i - i 

] ! ms Et p*s. : i :. ti this 

to meet May 22, wit! her depnti 
tion, in ?few York, and there 1 
do, all pradenl : ] . id i 

" 2i:d. Res ' '. Tl it we 3 conn ling i] tl 
Lty of id Con 1 ' t, do agree bserv 
abl - s, associations, and . ?, as said Cone 

dire.::. Signed . ". . . tl ring. 

The proximity f the turl 
citv, even the] .'. .. n _ . . its 

influ meed the spirit : th \ . i res luti -. The leadei 
the meeting, indeed, refer in -"-;. lici terms 1 i ?ssity 

. I " ning to tl :ample of their neighl . ' _ ity, in 

tnl q ml £ iel ._ ttes. Thu early was i 
enfoi 'A u] l the citizens I " 1 . :1; , t ' tirely 

: vo .... Anotl .. i thepeopl 

into th . 'oluti . y I . . . rr 
- tite for blood, which the 1 L - 

ton had aronsed. T t ; horrible 1 xeitei 

sei s a nation when the 1 1 f i 
sh ! 1 y af ;, aud whi h it is ..• impossi 

the c )i tagi n of a- pla< 

eommnnicated wit! th . I i 

the fiercest violei j, in .-.-...- ;ities i ' ■ '. 


The news of the battle of Lexington arrived in Xew 
York on the very day, April 23d, when the provincial 
Convention had dissolved; and the excited citizens imme- 
diately issued a call for the assembly of a provincial 
Congress, on the 24th of May. It was in compliance with 
this request that a meeting of town delegates was held at 
Flatbush, May 22d. Five of the six towns of Kings 
county, were there represented. Flatbush, by the voice 
of Nicholas Cowenhoven, declined any complicity in the 
proceedings of " the Convention, but at the same time ex- 
pressed the design of remaining; neutral in the strusrcrle, 
which was now clearly approaching. Richard Stillwell, 
Theodorus Polhemus, John Lefferts, Nicholas Cowenho- 
ven, Johannes E. Lott, John Vanderbirt, Henry Williams, 
and Jeremiah Eemsen, were the delegates chosen to repre- 
sent all the towns of Kings county except Flatlands. 
There are many other names of prominent citizens of 
Kings county which have come down to us, but they are 
not found in the records of these meetings, or on the list 
of deputies to the Congress. 

The fiery cross sped to the towns of Queens county, 
and summoned their delegates to the gathering; but these 
communities, more distant from the centre of revolutionary 
agitation, received the summons with coldness and scorn. 
When the address was presented to Lieut. Gov. Cadwalla- 
der Colden, at Jamaica, with a special recjuest appended 
that lie would intercede with Gov. Gage and the King to 
put an end to their violent measures, lie replied evasively, 
hut not without emotion.. The keen susceptibility and 
fine moral sense oi' this accomplished gentleman made 
him sensitive to those influences around him, which the 


heavier mould and duller comprehension of his associates 
could not detect; and lie felt that the elements of popular 

commotion were not to be laughed away with a jest, oi 
overwhelmed with silent scorn. We are left to conjecture 
what must have been his thoughts, as he turned away to 
hide an emotion which suffused his eyes with tears. A 
historian and scholar of eminent talents, his studies bad 
not left him ignorant of what are the consequences of 
rebellion, or with what rigor kings punish their insurgent 

His conscience and honor alike revolted against the 
crime of encouraging disloyalty, and his humanity recoiled 
from the dreadful punishment which, he believed awaited it. 
That this knowledge of the spirit and sentiments of the 
colonists, which his long residence among them had given 
him, made him equally sensible of the persistency of their 
resentment, and the impolicy, perhaps injustice, of the 
parliamentary measures, is most probable. He could re- 
member that he himself, the high civic functionary, the 
accomplished gentleman and scholar, had been treated like 
a common felon, by the insurgent mob of Xew York; but; 
he could not foresee that two of his son.- would be driven 
into exile, and another imprisoned in a loathsome jail, and 
left almost to perish lor want of food, by the same revolu- 
tionary populace, which he saw each day arrogating to 
itself more and more startling authority. 

The justices of Queen- county signed a scornful pr< 
against the " Anonymous advertisements" which called 
for meetings to appoint deputies to a Congress. From 
various indications it was evident that the temper of the 
people of Queens county had not changed, regarding the 



revolutionary purposes. The crafty whig loader.- were 
■ • so heedless as to overlook these unfavorable sio-ns,an(l 
-.;. y determined to avoid by political cunning the disa^ree- 

ible necessity of allowing the great majority of citizens 
Iverse to them, to vote on the question. Instead, there- 
. re, of taking the vote at regularly organized town 
meetings, they issued a call for a meeting of freeholders 
at Jamaica, who elected the delegates, as nearly unani- 
mously as party caucuses are wont to do. The assembled 
freeholders of that town generously elected delegates to 
represent the town of Hempstead also, in spite of the fact 
that three gentlemen from that place delivered a message 
from its freeholders, that they had held a meeting a few 
davs previously and resolved to have nothing to do with 
their Conventions or Con^resse-. This, it might hnve 
been supposed, would preclude the possibility of furnishing 
delegates for that town; hut. without the slightest regard 
to so inshrnifleaiit a circumstance, the caucus declared it 
to be essential that Hempstead should have its delegates, 
as without their election the Congress might declare the 
county delegates not eutitled to a vote, as had already 
been decided in the former Convention, Accordingly 
Hempstead, although entirely ignorant of the favor, and 
certainly averse to its bestowal, was supplied with deputies 
to the Congress. 1 Immediately after the assembling of 

'The placid temper of the Holland race, was not readily fired by the nar- 
ration of grievances which its representatives on Long Island never f w 
They looked with astonishment upon the frenzy into which their New 
England neighbors had lashed themselves, about a tax on Tea. They were 
not alone in this ignorance of thi iv own wrongs, for the agricultural <1 
■■ i most of the colonies were quietly unconscious of the brewing storm, or 
regarded its tokens with an indifference bl< tided with a feeble h i 
their violence. An incident narrated by Caruthers, in his Jit 


Congress, countj and town Committees of Safety were 
appointed in the several towns of Kings and Queens! 
counties, in pursuance of its recommendation. 

The revolutionary designs were now assuming form and 
dimensions, which made them as formidable as they had 
before appeared contemptible. From objects of scorn, the 
committees of shopmen and farmers began to be viewed 
as centres of terror and oppression; and they soon justified 
these apprehensions by constant espionage upon their 
loyalist neighbors, followed by acts of intolerance, and 
exclusion from the civic deliberations, which fast grew into 
partisan hatred. Lists were made of the proscribed, which 
included all who were not actively engaged in the various 
departments of their revolutionary organization; and day 
by day, those to whose education and refinement the asso- 
ciation with the coarser elements of society was repugnant. 

Incidents of the Old North Rate, though grotesquely ludicrous, is suggi -- 
five of the small degree of inconvenience, which the rural colonists suffi n d 
from the measures of the parent government. 

Mr. B , who attained a high military rank during the revoluti 

war, was, prior to its commencement, the proprietor of a country srore in 
the mountains of North Carolina ; and on his return from one of his annual 
visits to Philadelphia, bought, as a present to his wife, a pound of the famous 
Tea. The presence of a gentleman of high standing in the locality indued 
Mrs. 15.. to compliment him with some of the new esculent at his dinner. 
Totally ignorant of its use, she shook a generous quantity of the Chinese 
herb into the pot in which a ham was seething. The obstinate lea\ es would 
not, however, cook to a palatable condition, and drove the good lady ah 
to the verge of lunacy, when the ham, herb and all, served on the table, 
were pronounced uneatable. The- story spread through the settl - 
and an unfavorable impression regarding the merits and importance of tin 
controversy was generally produced. 

When the India Company lost its Three cargoes of tea in Boston, and the 
prospect of war between the colonies and the mother country grew into 
certainty, the decision of the district was almost unanimous that the subject 
was too trifling for the bloody trial of war. The farmers cursed the worth 
less tea, and declared that parliament might tax the miserable herb as 
highly as it chose, for they hud never seen or used it, and could sutler no- 
thing bv the heaviest duty, 


well as those whose loyalty revolted at tho incipient 
■• isoii, found the chains of the republican despoti m 
drawing tighter around them. As early as June 4th, the 
threatening sullenness of the loyalists of Queens county 
had become so alarming to the provincial Congress, that 
h wag ordered as the special subject for consideration on 
the nexl day. Nearly a month later, three of the deputies, 
who Lad neglected to take their scats, were formally 
warned to appear in their places, or assign reasons for the 
neglect. A few clays after, a communication was received 
from Joseph French, declining to serve as deputy to the 
provincial Congress, because he was convinced that a 
majority of the freeholders of Jamaica was hostile to the 
measure-- contemplated by that body, and strongly opposed 
to being represented in it. 

The deputy elect from Hempstead, Thomas Hicks of 
Little Neck, also sent in a letter of declination; but, with 
the characteristic reserve and caution of a cjuaker, he said 
he was compelled to that course, by the report " of several 
leading me?i" that the people of that town seemed much 
inclined to remain peaceable and quiet. 

It was evident that the populous and wealthy county of 
Queens was in a state of such hostility to the revolutionary 
measures that it should be declared contumacious. Its 
example of loyalty to the British crown was becoming an 
element of danger to the whigs, which called for its sup- 
pression. It had infected, as they believed, the adjacent 
towns of Kings county, one at least of which already 
exhibited a sullen and threatening attitude. 

So far, the aversion of the recusant towns to the aggres- 
sive doctrines of New England republicanism had been 


confined to a gloomy scorn; but their attitude v. 
defiant, that the New York Congress, now thoroughly 
alarmed, ordered " that the members from Queens co 
on Tuesday next, report to this Congress their opinion o i 
the conduct of their constituents, with regard to the 
troversy now subsisting between Great Britain and the 
American colonies, and what steps have been taken by am 
of the inhabitants to defend the measures necessary to be 
adopted by the continental, or by this Congress, for the 
preservation of our rights and privileges." The membei 
from Queens county, as they were by courtesy termed, who 
as we have seen were deputies without a constituency, 
doubtless reported a statement that was deemed counter- 
revolutionary; for on the 28th of June, Congress decided, 
that " it appeared that a great number of the inhabitants 
of Queens county are not disposed to a representation at 
this board, and have dissented therefrom.'"' It was how- 
ever, ordered, " that the members from Queens county do 
take and hold their seats at this board, notwithstanding 
such dissent, and that the members of Queens who have 
not attended be served with a copy of the above resolution 
and order.'' This was a shrewd political stroke; and 
worthy of the most talented and unscrupulous popular 
leaders of the present day. It was not deemed so neces- 
sary to convert the people of Long Island to republicanism, 
as to convince the rest of the country that they were in no 
need of conversion. 

Brooklyn and the adjacent towns were so completely 
overawed by the well organized democracy of the neigh- 
boring city, that their loyalist inhabitants felt that the 
hazard of demonstrating their position, by public acts. 


• us too great for experiment. Their slight: inferiority of 
numbers, however, was amply compensated by their wealth 
and influence. 

Few of those whose social position in Kings county enti- 
tled them, by the customs of monarchical society, to rank 
i - gentlemen, had joined the revolutionary party, which in- 
cluded but a very small number of the educated men, the 
officials, or the possessors of considerable landed estate. 
'Die presence of these influential persons in the immediate 
neighborhood of the provincial Congress could not but 
excite the utmost uneasiness; but, as they had hitherto 
confined their loyalty to silent aversion, no pretext could he 
seized upon for annoying or coercing them. Indeed, the 
adherents of the crown were yet too powerful, both social!) 
and politically, and the scarcely crystalized elements of 
republicanism were too feeble, for such violent measures. 
'I'll.. 1 time was nevertheless fast approaching when these 
unhappy gentlemen were to feel the strong hand of de- 
mocratic tyranny, and to learn that even moderation and 
neutrality are not tolerated in revolutionary times. 

Among those whom the whigs viewed with a distrust 
that was rapidly verging to hatred, were Gov. Cadwalla- 
der Colden of Jamaica, Lindley Murray of Islip, Richard 
Hewlett of Hempstead, and John Rapalye of Brooklyn, 
whose blameless lives afforded no opportunity for assault. 
We shall find that, their moderation was not long per- 
mitted to shield them; and the story of their sufferings 
will exhibit to the reader how poor a defense against the 
popular will is such an armor. 

Congress was now earnestly concentrating the scatter* d 
elements of power: the Committees of Safety thron ; 



the Island had thoroughly organized their By stem, and 
hud "become the radiating arms of the central committee 
which had lately assumed the title of Congress. 'J' 
power of these Committees was felt at first, as we have 
seen, through a neighborhood, espionage, that exasperati I 
every loyalist, with what seemed to him its unwarrantable 
impertinence. The gentlemen of wealth felt it to be an 
intolerable annoyance; and the royal officers, justices, and 
other crown adherents, looked upon it as an illegal and 
unjustifiable assumption of authority, to which they sub- 
mitted with the same grace which would have been 
accorded to a horde of banditti. The agents of recent K 
acquired power have not in any nation or time been cha- 
racterized by moderation, and amenity of manners: hut 
when the governed, lone; deprived of association in the 

O / O J- 

national control, seize at one grasp the reins of govern- 
ment, there is but a short step for the conquered between 
submission and hatred. 

By September, the designs of the republicans had suffi- 
ciently matured to permit them to undertake more active 
and aggressive measures. They were now prepared to 
sustain such violent operations by organized force, while 
the loyalists had remained in sullen indolence and inac- 
tivity. On such pretexts as the ingenuity of the Com- 
mittees of Safety could devise, or the impatience and 
annoyance of the royalists furnished, the latter were 
arrested, and held in durance. Early in that n 
Abraham Laurence, a prominent loyalist of Queens 
county, was arrested by the "ISTew Levies," and confined 
in New York jail, Brought before a committee of Con- 
gress, sitting at Scott's tavern, in "Wall street, he received 


a reprimand for his conduct from these persons, upon 
{] nn be doubtless looked with some disdain as a self-con- 
stituted junta to whom he owed 110 allegiance. Thus 
made to feel that the despised hand of republican power 
might one day prove to he cased in mail, he was dismissed. 

The Kings and Queens countv militia had been organized 
« a'A\ in 1775, and the enrolment probably included only 
those citizens who volunteered for the service; but a draft 
of all the able-bodied inhabitants had been ordered, and 
tiif numbers thus obtained were styled the Xcw Levies. 
The ranks were filled with many who were far from friendly 
to the cause for which the forces were organized. "When 
the combatants closed in the first deadly struggle, and the 
cause of liberty hung balanced in the scale of battle, the 
proclivities to loyalty of some, joined to the timidity of 
others, hastened the disasters of that bloody field. 

Among the residents of Long Island who attracted the 
consideration of Congress, was one George Bethune, of 
Jamaica, who was suspected of correspondence with his 
Majesty's army and navy, against the liberties of America. 
Col, Lasher was charged with his arrest, and ordered to 
bring him, with his letters and papers, before the commit- 
tee. The evidence was thus obtained that the loyalists 
contemplated hostility more serious than moody aversion ; 
and the revolutionary authorities nerved themselves for a 
contest which they would gladly have avoided, less perhaps 
from the danger, than from the scandal of the conflict of 
authorities. To avoid at once the hazard of open rupture^ 
and the confession of strong opposition to the republican 
authority on the Island, some device must be adopted that 
would cover the design of awing the royalists, at least 


into acquiescence. To disarm them, without the appear- 
ance of arbitrary measures, was the firsl step; to deal with 
them afterwards would be less difficult. A resolution was 
therefore adopted, Sept. 16th, "that all such aims as are 
fit for the use of the troops raised in this colony, win 
shall he found in the hands of any person who lias not 
signed the general Association, shall be impressed for the 
use of the troops.'' The arms thus seized were "to be 
appraised by three indifferent persons of reputation," 
whose certificate should entitle the proprietor to compensa- 
tion or return of the weapon. 1 

This measure was well calculated to incense still further 
a populace already tired with vindictive feelings: but the 
scheme was plausibly urged as a temporary necessity, 
rather than an ao-oressive affront. The loyalists generally 
forbore resistance to the measure, enforced, as it was, by 
the presence of two companies of Col. Lasher's battalion 
of Loni>: Island militia. 

The work of disarming the loyalists proceeded lor a feu- 
days without serious opposition, but, as we subsecjuently 
learn, with little success. On the 25th of September, how- 
ever, alarming news was communicated by Abraham 
Skinner, regarding the threatening attitude of the people 
at Jamaica. He had hastened from that place with the 
information that the collection of arms bad proceeded 
slowly ; but in the meanwhile he had discovered that the 
loyalists were mustering, having himself seen numbers ot 
them marching to the rendezvous. Apprehensive of fierce 

'The lengthy resolutions of the pro ' ici; ' Congress, containing a full 
statement of the condition of Queens county, will be found in their journal, 
page 149. 


,. jinnee to the disarming force, he urged tlic detachment 
of a battalion toils assistance. This, of all measures, was 
the last which the Congress was solicitous to adopt; as the 
first clash of arms, between its forces and the sturdy loyal 
farmers, might arouse an angry populace, almost to a man, 
against them. A nucleus of resistance, thus formed, 
would aggregate all the elements of opposition around it, 
and, protected by the British vessels of war in the harbor, 
would soon become too formidable for the feeble forces of 
the revolutionists to cope with. 

A gentleman, whose name was singularly associated 
with the subsequent history of Jamaica, was selected by 
Congress from its members to proceed thither, and endea- 
vor, by more pacific arguments than loaded muskets, to 
dissuade the loyalists from resort to them. Egbert Benson, 
a delegate from Dutchess county, was the person selected. 
Endeared, as this gentleman is, to all students of American 
history, not only for his labors in behalf of the independ- 
ence of our country, but for his zeal in the study of its his- 
tory, we cannot but feel gratified at such testimony to his 
high character and eminent fitness for this mission, as his 
selection furnishes. Mr. Benson proceeded on his errand, 
but doubtless found the irritated populace too angry for 
argument; and, in consequence, his report is confined to 
the repetition of the statements of others. From Major 
Williams, the officer in command of the disarming detach- 
ment, and other gentlemen residents of Jamaica, he had 
obtained information that confirmed all which had been 
stated, relative to the threatening demonstrations of the 
loyalists; and he added, in order to prevent mistakes, that 
he had obtained a written communication from the com- 


manding officer, which lie submitted, as hi* report. '- 1 
have endeavored in the towns of Jamaica and Hemp t< . i 
to carry the resolutions of Congress into execution; bui 
without the assistance of the battalion of Col. Lasher, I 
shall not be able to do it to any good purpose. The people 
conceal all their arms that arc of any value, and man\ 
declare that they know nothing about the Congress, nor 
do they care anything for the orders of Congress; and -. y 
they would sooner lose their lives than give up their arms. 
and that they would blow any. man's brains out that should 
attempt to take them. We find there are a number of arms 
that belong to the county, in the hands of the people 
Some persons are so hardy and daring, as to go into the 
houses of those that are friendly, and take away by force 
those county arms that our friends have received from the 
clerk of the county. "We are told, the people have been 
collecting together and parading in sundry places, armed, 
and firing their muskets by way of bravado. We also 
have it from good authority that Governor Colden yester- 
day sent his servant round to some of the leading people, 
advising them to arm and defend themselves, and not 
deliver their arms. In consequence of which, a number 
of people collected themselves thus morning to retake the 
few arms we collected yesterday, but for some reason did 
not proceed. Captain Hewlett, of Hempstead, told us he 
had his company together last Sunday, and said, 'had 
your battalion appeared, we should have. warmed their 
sides.' On the whole, had we the battalion, we believe 
we. should be able to collect a very considerable number oi 
good arms, and support the honor of Congress; but with- 
out it, I shall not. I think, if the battalion is sent up, the 


8 toner the better. Some of the leading men of Hempgtead, 
whom we this day had together, prepared to call the town 
together on Monday next, and consult on the matter, and 
return some answer or other on Tuesday next, and seemed 
desirous to put off the meeting until the whole Congress 
met. Whether they mean by this put oil' to gain time to 
arm and prepare, or what else, we know not." 

From the tenor of this report nothing was clearer, than 
that the slightest step toward coercion would precipitate 
a conflict for which Congress was poorly prepared. Nearly 
all the troops which the Island had furnished, were en- 
camped at the eastern end, to resist the lauding of the Bri- 
tish, who, it was anticipated, would, soon evacuate Boston. 
Embarrassed with the difficulties which surrounded it, and 
alarmed at the menacing position of the loyalists, the 
provincial Congress recoiled from the danger, and thus 
registered a confession of its weakness. Orders were at 
once communicated to the committee appointed, to send 
in all the arms secured, to collect such as were readily 
obtainable, and return to the city within two days. 

A committee of five of the deputies was at the same 
time directed to proceed to the county, now deemed in a 
state of insurrection, and attend the meeting to he held at. 
Hempstead on the Monday succeeding. As the committee 
was to reach Jamaica on Friday, orders were sent to 
employ the interim in using every prudent means for col- 
lecting arms. How this committee sped in its mission, 
we are left without information ; hut that it was wholly 
ineffective, we know from subsequent events. 

Stout Richard Hewlett, of Hempstead, had been trained 
in a rude school that wonderfully fitted him for a partisan 


officer. Queens county had furnished two hundred 
ninety men for the splendid army which Abercroml j 
shattered against the defenses of Ticonderoga. '. 
brave men, though sadly thinned by this appalling dis 

again rallied under their brave and enterprising Coli 
Isaac Corsa of Flushing, and Major Woodhull of Mi 
and by their courage and endurance contributed greatly i 
the capture of Fort Frontenac by Col. Bradstreet. Cant. 
Hewlett commanded a company in both of these expedi- 
tions, and proved an active and daring officer. Keith ei 
the tough old partisan, nor his companion in arms, Col. 
Corsa, were disposed to render homage to this new .. 
vernment of "shop-keepers and tradesmen,'' as the ok! 
loyalists termed the revolutionary party. When he threat- 
ened to " warm the sides'' of Major Williams's battalion, 
his jocular phrase had a stern humor in it, that meant 
heavy blows and hard lighting. 

His character is well illustrated by an anecdote recorded 
of his subsequent career in the B evolution, when, at the 
head of a partisan corps, which ravaged the eastern end 
of the Island, he was besieged by General Parsons at Se- 
tauket. Hewlett's situation was one of imminent hazard. 
Two hundred and sixty men, in a feeble entrenchment, 
surrounded by three times their number, offered but 
small hopes of a successful resistance. Hewlett demanded 
of his soldiers if they desired to retreat. The response 
was a decided "ISo." "Then," replied the stern Colonel, 
"I'll stick to you as long as there is a man left." The 
repulse of the assaulting party, and its withdrawal from 
the Island, showed how much was meant by these words. 
The old ranger was now active in organizing his fore'.-. 


ami doubtless enrolled among them many of the surviving 
companions of his French and Indian campaigns, who 
ba 1 long before seen bloody fields, and heard the angry 
roar of musketry and cannon. With the temper and cou- 
rage of Capt. Hewlett no one was better acquainted 
than Major Williams; for they had been companions in 
arms in the French war, and bad fought side by side 
through the forests bordering the northern lakes. The} 
had both raised their companies on Long Island, for the 
campaign under Abercrombie and Bradstreet. They had 
fought their way together through the tangled swamps, 
day after day,, when the woods swarmed with their savage 
foes; and now they met on their home soil, as mortal ene- 
mies. It was, perhaps, the knowledge of each other's 
qualities that made these partisan officers reluctant to test 
them in actual conflict. 

Each party was now arming for the struggle. The 
Associators, who were not already in active service, en- 
rolled themselves under a military organization, every- 
where known throughout the colonies as "minute men." 
At Jamaica, a sufficient number of whigs associated to 
form a company nearly sixty strong, who elected their 
officers, and reported to the Congress in New York. At 
Great Keck, and Cow Keck, the New England influence 
was so strong that a large number solemnly declared their 
■ section of the township independent of the town govern- 
ment of Hempstead, on account of its adhesion to the crown. 

Thus, on September 23d, 1775, the first declaration of 
independence in these colonies took place, at Cow Neck, in 
Queens county, by the secession of that district from the 
royal government of the town of Hempstead. So import- 


ant was this example esteemed by Congress, to which il 
minutes of the meeting were transmitted, that it orders] 
the report to be entered at large upon the journal of thu 
day, and passed a resolution highly commendatory of the ac- 
tion, which it ratified by sending commissions to the officei 
elected. Such were the feeble blows, which first fell upon 
the wedge that separated these colonics from Great Britain. 
The leaders of the revolutionary party encouraged these 
acts of renunciation of established government, because 
they detached almost insensibly, thread by thread, the 
strong bonds which held these colonies to the crown, and 
prepared them for the great design. Thus, the narrow 
space which at first separated the Associators and the loy- 
alists on Lone; Island was widening, day by day. Between 
them already yawned an impassable gulf, bridged at few 
points by the common sympathy of kindred or friendship. 
Even these frail connections were now parting. Through- 
out all the stages of preparation for the final struggle, 
neither party relaxed its tension for a moment. The issue 
of the polling of votes at Jamaica, on the 7th of Xovember, 
for the election of deputies to the new Congress, suffi- 
ciently evinced this rigidity of purpose. One thousand 
and nine votes were cast, of which only two hundred and 
twenty-one were in favor of the election of deputies; while 
seven hundred and eighty-eight were registered against 
any representation in the provincial Congress. This firm 
exhibition of the popular disfavor of revolutionary senti- 
ments, appalled the Congress of 2\ew York; and for two 
months the deputies contented themselves with fulminating 
their resolves against the contumacious loyalists, whose 
spirit and numbers made them objects of dread. 


The .stout Indian fighter, Captain Richard Hewlett, was 
storing up arms and ammunition for the contest, which his 
discernment warned him could not be far distant. In this 
he was freely aided by the grim old Governor Tryon, 
tvhose gubernatorial chair was on the quarter deck of the 
Asia man of war, cruising about the mouth of the har- 
bor, or swinging at her anchor in the outer bay. 1 Not 
only muskets and gunpowder, but a cannon, and a ship's 
gunner to work it, were sent to Captain Hewlett by Gov. 
Tryon, to whom the stern humor of the partisan must 
have greatly commended him. Resolutions and procla- 
mations against, the recusants continued to be passed by 
the Congress, until the close of the year 1775. One of 
these is suggestive of much and earnest thought to the 
student of history. After reciting the facts which have 
been already narrated, and declaring the entire counties 
of Richmond and Queens in a state of insurrection, they 
ask the continental Congress to advise them how to pro- 
ceed in their embarrassment. In this petition the depu- 
ties reveal the secret of their reluctance to commence 
coercive measures toward the loyalists of Long Island, 
even after the concentration of forces in the city had. 
placed the means within their power. First, the ships of 
war in the harbor, which had hitherto observed a sort of 

J On the sixth of December, 1775, Gov. Tryon wrote to the Etvrl of Da 

iu<mth : 

"Th^ peaceable demeanor and loyalty of the inhabitants of Queens 
county, with a firm resolution to defend their families and property from 
insult, has drawn on them the threatened violence of Sears and his adher- 
ents. But unawed by these threats, it is believed they will be firm, united, 
and spirited in their resistance to such . r > lawless and wicked attack. 

" Lieut. Gov. Coldcn and his family have much merit in promoting this 
h udable spirit of opposition to the measures of committees and emu • - s, 
in Queens county." 


neutrality, would bring their guns to bear upon the cit\ 
and reduce it to a heap of ruins, the moment th 
of actual warfare was exercised toward- the loyj 
Secondly, in asking Congress to employ any other thni 
Xew York troops in the service of disarming the loyalist •. 
the deputies acknowledge the little reliance the} placed 
upon the adherence of the troops of that colony, ill': 
the ranks were by a draff which had swept into them 
loyalist and whig alike. 

The petition of the provincial to the continental Coj i _ . 
was acted upon without delay. The question was one of too 
great national importance, and the hazard of permitting the 
counter-revolutionary measures to culminate in resisl 
was too great, to admit of dalliance. A proclamation 1 was 
of course issued, for in parliamentary or congressional 
affairs, nothing can he done without proclamations; hut on 
this occasion the continental Congress followed up their 
bulletin, with a regiment of armed men. Col. Heard, of 
TToodhrido'e.ZNew Jersev, was ordered to assume command 

; " Whereas a majority of the inhabitants of Queens county in the colony 
of Xew York, being incapable of resolving to live and die freem i 

■ more disposed to quit their liberti( - than part with the little propor- 
•. . of their property that may be necessary to defend them, have d • 
the American cause, by refusing to send deputies as usual I t 
of the colony, and avowing by a public declaration an unmanl; 
i . . ining inactive spectators of the present contest, vainly nattering I 
selves, perhaps, that should providence dec p our i ties they may 

| rcha se their mercy and favor at an easy rate ; and on the other hat) I 

i • hi mid terminate in favor of America, that then they may i njoy, without 
expense of blood or treasure, all the blessings resulting from that lib. rty 
which they in the day of trial had abandoned, and in defer) b many 

of their more virtuous neighbors and i utrymen hud nobly died; and 
although the want of public spirit observable in these men rat 
pit] than alarm, there being little danger to apprehend cither fro] . tl 

ess or example, yet it i-; rci soi -• who refus 

their country, should be excluded from its protection and prevented from 
■". Lnginjury; therefore, etc." — Proceedings L • ti ' . ' 


- five or six hundred minute men of that state, togethei 
• two companies of regulars from Lord Stirling's 1 
maud, and proceed at once to Queens county. His orders 
.. re peremptory, to act with dispatch, secrecy, order and 

auity, in disarming every person who had voted 
against the election of deputies. The poll li - 1 of names of 
the recusant electors had been forwarded to Congress; and 
a '.-o^y of this register now served to guide Col. Heard in 
the performance of his duties. "Whoever refused imme- 
diate and unconditional compliance with the order, the 
Colonel was to place in confinement. Twenty-six namea 
were furnished to him of prominent citizens of Queens 
county, who were asserted to he leaders of the disaffected; 
and these persons were to be secured and placed in con- 
finement. All who. in the exercise of the natural and 
legal right of voting according to their own judgment and 
conscience, had given their names against the election of 
deputies, were placed under the ban of the revolutionary 
government, and deprived of every right and privilege 
winch the laws could, give them. Nearlv ei^ht hundred 
freeholders of Queens county were thus put out of protec- 
tion of the law. All persons were forbidden to trade or 
hold intercourse with them; they were subject to arrest 
and imprisonment, the moment they crossed the boundary 
of the county; no lawyer was to defend them when ac- 
cused of crime, or to prosecute any claim for debt, or suit 
ior protection from outrage or robbery. In order to brand 
them with scorn, and make them as obnoxious as possible 
to the community, the list of <tyen hundred and eighty- 
eight voters was ordered to be published for a month in 
the columns of the colonial newspapers. 


Every impartial mind will revolt at the severity of 
measures, unprovoked as they were by any acts of \\, 
lence, and only to be justified in the wings on the groum] 
of self-preservation. The exercise of an inalienable ri<_d.\ 
in the only manner which the consciences of many coul 
approve, was the feeble pretext for the oppression of ;. 
whole community, by a government which based its exist- 
encc on the right of every people to legislate for itself. 
Although the narrative of the expedition conveys the idea 
of unvarying success, and all the reports of its officer* 
indicate that the submission was complete, yet barbarous 
acts occurred during its progress which the prudence of 
the officers in command concealed under general terms — 
acts which were the precursors of a hitter partisan warfare, 
that desolated the Island for seven years. 

It was not until the 17th of January, that the regiment 
of minute men, six hundred strong, was ready to march 
from Woodbridge. At ISTew York, where it arrived on 
the next day, the regiment was reinforced by three hun- 
dred men, mostly from Lord Stirling's division, under the 
command of Major De Hart. Unfortunately his detach- 
ment was joined atlNew York by a volunteer organization, 
composed of the most reckless and abandoned of her 
population, who had either made soldiering the last re- 
source of a dissipated life, or who had early learned the 
vices of the camp. The acceptance of their services was 
not carrying out the plan contemplated by Congress, which 
had ordered the expedition to be conducted with " dis- 
patch, secrecy, order, and humanity." The regulars, under 
Major De Hart, had crossed from Elizabethtown to Yew 
York, on Wednesday the 27th; but the regiment com- 

t- Ox i 


.-. led by Col. Heard not having arrived, they encamped 
• Horn's Hook near Hellgate, until Friday, when the two 
lachments united and crossed to Long Island. 

As the object of the expedition was secret, this route was 
>sen, to execute a Hanking movement, and by appear- 
ing suddenly in the disaffected county, to give the loyalists 
:: > opportunity for collecting in force. Every stop on the 
route from Brooklyn ferry would have passed through un- 
idly territory, and fleet messengers would have warned 
the loyalists of the approach of the detachment. In the after- 
noon of the same day the expedition arrived at Xewtown, 
aud commenced the work of disarming its inhabitants. 

It was late in the morning of the next day before Col. 
Lizard and his command arrived at Jamaica, everywhere 
disarming the farmers whom they surprised on their route, 
and securing the persons of the principal loyalists, whose 
name- they found on their list of the proscribed. While 
the main body marched slowly along, small parties of men 
were detached at every cross-road and farm-lane, who 
forced an entrance into the houses, and dragged from his 
door into the ranks every proprietor who had the misfor- 
tune to be known as a loyalist. Every house which was 
pointed out by the officious diligence of whig neighbors, 
as the residence of one who had not signed the Associa- 
tion, was entered and ransacked, and the warrant which 
Uceused this violence shielded from punishment a thou- 
sand barbarities. So flagrant and scandalous were many 
of i\ie outrages perpetrated by De Hart's forces that the 
officers of the minute men, who had doubtless been chosen 
agreeably to the orders of Congress as "prudent and dis- 
creet men," were shocked at their license, and longed to 


bo rid of their disorderly companions. The minute m< n 
of New Jersey were respectable farmers and tradesmen, 
heads of families in many instances; and these humane 
men scorned the petty plunder which the others appro- 
priated, as much as they commiserated the distress of 
which they were compelled to be the authors. Large 
numbers of the proscribed were brought in, by the several 
detachments, to Jamaica: and the sabbath *of January 
20th, 1776, was employed in the examination and disposi- 
tion of the prisoners. Every person who had committed 
the unpardonable crime of voting against sending deputies 
to - Congress was seized, and required to sign an obligation 
not to oppose the army of Congress, or aid the ministerial 
troops. Those who refused to take the oath, resisted the 
violence of the soldiers, or declined to surrender their arms, 
as well as those who were designated as royalist leaders, 
were not permitted to escape on such easy terms, but were 
carried along as prisoners. 

So far the detachment had nowhere met with the re- 
sistance anticipated, as the royalists hitherto had had no 
opportunity for mustering in force. But the object of the 
expedition being now thoroughly disclosed, it was appre- 
hended that on the march to Hempstead the republicans 
would meet with severe opposition. Capt. Richard Hew- 
lett, whose courage and hatred of the whig cause were 
well known, was expected to exercise his talent for skir- 
mishing and Indian warfare, in harassing the march of 
the troops wherever a favorable position offered. Then- 
was a gathering of his partisan corps at Hempstead, where 
the angry loyalists were eager to avenge the outrages oi 
their neighbors, and the invasion of their own soil. But 


, : c disarming- force too greatly outnumbered them for any 
S 11] c of success, and those who could not endure the hate- 
ful submission of the oath, fled to the swamps and forests. 
Everywhere the march of the invading force spread dis- 
may; and the inhabitants, abandoning all ideas of resist- 
ance, surrendered their arms and made their submission, 
or concealed themselves in the pathless thickets of the 
great bush-plains. A considerable number, to whom the 
oath was oppressive, or who apprehended sharp treatment, 
exiled themselves, rowing their boats at night through some 
of the narrow passages which intersected the salt marshes, 
and making their way to the ships in the harbor. 

Two days were occupied in these operations at Jamaica, 
and as many at Hempstead, during which period three 
hundred firearms were delivered, and four hundred and 
seventy-one names were subscribed to the declaration of 
submission. Three hundred and forty-nine persons sub- 
scribed to an oath that they had neither concealed nor de- 
stroyed any arms or ammunition. Such of these as the 
disarming force obtained were so nearly worthless as to 
induce the remark from Major De Hart " that it was possi- 
ble they would be worth the freight to New York, provided 
they were conveyed by water.'' 1 It was a ready mode of 
cultivating the favor of the disarming officers, for the 
prisoners to express great irritation against those who had 
led them into opposition, and had deserted them in the 
hour of danger. This is a favorite means of defense with 
weak insurgents; and, although the credulity of the go- 
vernmental authorities is rarely imposed upon by it, they 
never fail to publish it with sound of trumpets, not only 
to brills the insurgent leaders into contempt as cowards, - 


but in order to induce the popular conviction that the ac- 
tual disaffection has been confined to a small uumber. 
At Hempstead, the detachment of regulars and volunti • 

under De Hart, was ordered back to Few York, their out- 
rageous conduct having become intolerable, and their aid 
unnecessary. Col. Heard, the commanding officer of the ex- 
pedition, was admirably fitted for his ungrateful mission. 
While he was indefatigable in pursuit of the objects of the 
movement, he never forgot that his opponents were his 
countrymen; and, although his circumspection permitted 
nothing essential to escape his notice, he was humanely 
blind to much that a more tyrannical officer misht have 
seized as a pretext for persecution. All who approached 
him were treated with civility and kindness, and, so far 
as hay in his power, the rigors of their imprisonment were 
ameliorated. 1 He was anxious to be rid of his half savage 
and wholly ungovernable reinforcement. Their excesses 
must have greatly pained him, and he accordingly seized 
the excuse that their services were no longer necessary. 2 , 

: In some instances Col. Heard relaxed the severity of his orders to such 
an extent as to cause the delinquents to be notified of the time and place al 
which he would meet them, and they were permitted to remain at home 
until the time specified. The royalists resorted to all the devices, in winch 
■ • tered but unsubdued enemies find refuge from tie:- inquisitorial mea- 
sures of the dominant povrer. While Col. Heard was quarteredat the honsu 
el Nathaniel Sammis in Hempstead, from winch village almost the whole 
male population had fled on his approach, one Anthony was brought before 
him; who escaped both imprisonment and the oath, by simulating the 
actions of an idiot. When ashed what he knew of the Asia man of war. 
lie replied " Asia'.' what kind of an animal is that ; " and when ordered to 
remove Ids hat, he stood perfectly heedless of the direction until it was 
removed by a soldier. The form, of the oath was then placed before him on 
the table, and he was directed to put his hand to the paper. In literal 
obedience he laid his broad hand upon it, when he was thrust out <->[' the 
ro an as a lb .1. having fairly outwittt d his captors. 

* It is but just to record that Major De Hart attributed the disorderly con- 
titsct entirely to the volunteers, and asserted that the regulars behaved well. 


As booh as he found himself unembarrassed by this 
baud of marauders, he proceeded through the county, 
and reached Jericho on Thursday, with nearly seven 
hundred high. Scouting parties were detached to Cedar 
cwamp, Hempstead harbor, and Flushing, while he swept 
his drag net through Norwich and Oyster Bay. From this 
wide circle he gathered, as the result of this expedition, 
one thousand arms, of all sorts, and nineteen of the pro- 
scribed loyalists, seven of whom, however, evaded lug 
-rasp. 1 The merits of Col. Heard, in the conduct of the 
expedition, were fully acknowledged by the Committee of 
Safety on his return to New York, and a formal vote of 
thanks was tendered him for his prudence in the execution 
of his unenviable duty. 

The nineteen Long Island gentlemen who bad indulged 
themselves in voting according to their sense of duty, or 
their inclination, and who bad thus incurred the jealous 
dislike of the predominant party, were taken as prisoners 
to Philadelphia, where it was expected that their fate 
would be decided by the continental Congress. This 
body, however, after a detention of the unfortunate gen- 
tlemen for two weeks, was glad to be quit of them, and 
ordered their return to New York ; thus throwing the 
responsibility of their final disposition upon the provincial 

'Although the expedition had met with no open resistance and largo 
numbers had made their submission, yet the result was far from satisfac- 
tory. No1 more than half of the disaffected, who had cast their votes 
against the election of deputies, had appeared before the military ti 
Numbers of the most obnoxious had fled or secreted themselves, before tl 
exjK.'ditinii reached the insurrectionary district, and it was found that a 
copy of the list of the proscribed had by some means been t ran smi 
Hempstead in advance of the arrival of Col. Heard. Most of the gui 
side-arms obtained during the expedition were worthless, as th« 
hid their best weapons. 


Congress, which was requested to examine the pri 
and report the result of their inquest to the contiiiei 
body. They were accorded the privilege of occupying 
house in Xew York, of their own selection, on the c:i 
condition, enjoyed in common with other citizens, of [\i\ 
ing for it from their own purse; but they were likewi: • 
compelled to pay the expenses of the guard. During i).. : 
period of their detention, which terminated in ten days, 
the town Committees were requested to furnish evidence 
of their criminality; but the shrewd recusants had not 
been so complaisant, as to commit any act that could be 
construed into treason against a government which they 
had never acknowledged. At the end of this time they 
were permitted to return to their homes, with the thrifty 
condition, which the economical authorities always at- 
tached to the privileges they granted, of paying all the 
expenses attending their deportation and imprisonment, 
and giving a bond to preserve the peace and to present 
themselves when summoned, 1 

'An incident of the campaign is recorded in a newspaper (Jan. 20. 177G] 
which is illustrative of the temper of the tories, as well as of the lack m 
purpose arid union in their resistance, "On Tuesday last, seven hundred 
Jersey militia, and three hundred of the Jersey regulars, entered Qui us 
county, solely to disarm those who are opposed to American liberty; and 
although they (the tories) have repeatedly declared their resolution "of d. 
fending their arms at the risk of their lives, yet such is the badness of their 
cause (which no doubt rendered them cowards), that they were disarmed 
without opposition ; and the generality of them have sworn to abide by the 
measures of the Congress. 

"Two young men brought seventeen prisoners into Hempstead, with 
their amis ; and a boy of twelve years of age demanded a pair of pistols of a 
man who had threatened to shoot the first person that attempted to disarm 
him, but with fear and trembling delivered his pistols to the boy, who 
brought them away in triumph." 



Expeditions against the Loyalists of Queens 

Amid the acrimony and bitterness which filled the 
breasts of the partisans on either side, on Long Island, it 
• ■ pleasant to record the occasional exercise of gentler 
emotions. Many an earnest whig would not sacrifice his 
humanity Id the dictates of party; though it was a danger- 
ous virtue for the most pronounced of revolutionists to 
exhibit toward a tory. Timothy Smith, a quiet farmer of 
Hempstead, was styled an "inactive whig," by the Com- 
mittee of Safety of the seceded district of Great "NTeck, and 
fell under their ban, because, when cited before them to 
give evidence against his neighbors, he forbore to come. 
on the pretense of urgent business. He was at once re- 
ported to Gen. Woodhull, president of the provincial 
Congress, as a person to be sharply dealt with. The 
words of his condemnation are so peculiar, in their demure 
^.tggestiveness, that they must be transcribed literally, in 
order to convey an idea of the social tyranny of the time : 
"We think him too good an evidence to escape your 
notice, as well as to convince him that all business must 
bend to the preservation of our country." 

So little satisfactory was the result of Colonel Heard's 
expedition, that he laid returned barely a month wheu 
another was contemplated. In the meanwhile the most 


strenuous efforts were made to enroll all the whig re*id< 
of the Island into the militia, four regiments of 
were designed to be raised, ostensibly for the def 
Long Island, but in fact to overawe and keep the lo 
in check. Letters were sent to all the loading \ V j 
ing them to activity in the effort; but before much ).. 
been accomplished, a more vigorous brain and a ,, 
will had been placed at the head of affairs in Xew Y . 
to which circular letters were abominations. 

Washington, aware that the British, now closely I 
leaguered in Boston, could hold that city only a few tl 
longer, was turning an anxious eye to Yew York, whither 
he foresaw that they would soon remove. In a letter 
Joseph Reed, daied January 31st, 17TG, the Commander- 
in-chief says : ; ' : In my last I think I informed you of n 
sending General Lee to Yew York, with the intention of 
securing the tories on Long Island, and preventing, it 
possible, the king's troops from making a lodgment there: 
but I fear the Congress will be duped by the representatu'c- ; 
from that government, or yield to them in such a maun- :- 
as to become marplots to the expedition. The city seem? 
to be entirely under the government of Tryon and the 
captain of the man of war."' A short time prior to this 
date, "Washington had written to Schuyler in compli 
ary terms, blended with no little severity of reflection 
upon the neglect of the provincial Congress of Yew York 
to treat the tories with harsher measures: i; I congratulate 
you upon the success of your expedition into Tryon county. 
I hope General Lee will execute a work of the same kind 
on Long Island. It is high time to begin with our in- 
ternal foes, when we are threatened with such severity ol 


• : :j .-. -incut from our kind parent without." To Gen. 
[ 4 ee he had written on the 23d: "I received your favor 
of the 16th instant, and am exceedingly sorry to hear that 
Congress countermanded the embarkation of the two regi- 
ments intended against the lories of Long Island. They, 
] doubt not. Lad their reasons; but to me it appears that 
the ]>eriod is arrived when nothing less than the most 
decisive and vigorous measures should be pursued." The 
possession of Long Island was indispensable to the oc- 
cupation of ISTew York, and the firm loyalty of its inha- 
bitants to the King filled his mind with apprehension. 

The military experience and ardent zeal of Gen. Charles 
Lee gave him apparently superior fitness for the command 
of this important position, and he was accordingly dis- 
patched to assume the office of military commandant of 
New York and Long Island. The military sagacity of 
this extraordinary man anticipated every movement which 
the enemy subsequently made. The strategic importance 
of Long Island was so clearly visible to his perception, 
quickened by great experience in the art of war, that he 
awaited, with an impatience which he did not attempt to 
conceal, the slow and cautious movements of the delibera- 
tive body, which could thwart, if it could not control him. 
His authority, as well as that of ail the continental officers 
at this time, was so ill-defined, that it was hardly possible 
to decide where the civil power terminated and the mili- 
tary authority began. General Lee had scarcely arrived 
in New York before he decided that the entire loyalist 
population of Long Island must be removed, to secure the 
safety of New York. Sharper and more incisive measures 
than the provincial Congress had found nerve to perform, 


would only be characteristic actions of Gen Leo, and for 
the performance of such he had been selected. 

.'During the month of February a regiment of troops 
commanded by Col. Ward had been quartered in Brook- 
lyn, and billeted on the farmers from Gowanus to Walla- 
bout bay. Gen Lee had planned the line of fortifications 
connecting these two points, afterward so memorable in 
the siege of Brooklyn, and this regiment was now employed 
in their construction. In the journal of the provincial 
Congress are found many details relating to this work. 
which -indicate his energy and zeal. These are shown by 
his demand, on one day, for a certain number of pots and 
pans, and on another, by a requisition for straw to fill the 
bed-sacking of sick soldiers. At length he obtained the 
appointment of a committee, to fix the number of articles 
with which the Brooklyn citizens were to furnish the 
soldiers of Col. Ward's regiment, at their places of billet. 
The Congressional archives furnish documents which ex- 
hibit on the part of those thrifty citizens more solicitude 
regarding their payment for these billets, " and the cribs, 
bed-eases, bolsters, pots, trammels, tongs, shovels, and- 
irons, axes, candlesticks, benches, buckets, firewood, can- 
dle.-, straw, and house room," as specified by the Congres- 
sional resolution, than for the success of the continental 
arms. It is gratifying to discover that Congress allowed 
them seven shillings currency a week for sheltering offi- 
cers under their roofs, and one shilling and sixpence for 
affording the same hospitality to private soldiers. 

Col. Ward found many embarrassments in the progress 
of Ins work of fortifying the village of Brooklyn. The 
necessary brush for fascines, wood for picket.-, and other 


Hber used in the construction of tbe works, couH only 
v. obtained by application to the Yew York Conore . 
which, instead of issuing peremptory orders for their seizure 
as necessary materials of war, sent a polite request to the 
farmers of Brooklyn to permit these articles to be taken 
from their lands, and promised that the vouchers given 
in receipt for them should he paid in the same manner as 
similar tokens of indebtedness, in the city of New York. 
This scrupulous and ceremonious method of preparing 
\'ov the stern ordeal of the bloody battle-field was gall and 
wormwood to the irate Gen. Lee, 

A convention had been agreed upon between Gov. Try- 
on, who controlled the movements of the ships of war Asia 
and Dutchess, and the provincial Congress, by which the 
latter permitted fresh meat, vegetables, and other food to be 
carried on board the vessels, while they forebore to bring 
their guns to bear upon the insurgent city. " This," said 
ilia General, " is not making war ; I shall interdict it." It 
had been the custom to permit boats to leave the city, in 
every direction, and at any time, without question. Gen. 
Lee stationed a line of sentinels along the shore, and com- 
pelled the occupants oi every boat to submit to inspection, 
at the risk of being detained if conveying supplies that 
might be useful to the enemy. The sturdy boatmen and 
farmers, unaccustomed to military control and impatient of 
its exercise, were sometimes brought back to the shore by 
the sharp hail of a musket ball bred over their heads. Con- 
gress in its turn, grew restive under the sharp rule of tins 
stern warrior, who treated its meddlesome resolutions of 
inquiry with a scorn that was often pungent with ang< r. 
He chafed at such restraints from these dull citizens, with a 


fiery impatience, that sought some ohject upon which to venl 
its ire. Never had Xew York seen a commander so full of 
intelligent purpose, and of the energy which drives rH 
to its accomplishment, so beset, so hampered, and so irate. 

Unfortunately for the loyalists of Long Island, Gen Lee, 
turning like a hunted bear upon the first object that could 
satiate his wrath, issued orders to seize some of the princi- 
pal leaders among them; and, without a- moment's delay, 
or the intervention of those tedious legal formalities that 
have been established to prove the identity of the culprit, 
he deported to another colony the victims of whig denun- 
ciation. One of the poisons thus banished from Queens 
county was a gentleman named Gale, who was so fortu- 
nate as to get his case brought to the notice of Congress. 
This body of men, who possessed the rare merit among 
revolutionists of a humanity which partisanship could not 
chili, directed their secretary, Egbert Benson, to ascertain 
the circumstances of the arrest and banishment of Gale, 
by communicating with Gen. Lee. The latter answered, 
in a postscript to a long letter, that in regard to Mr. Gale, 
whodiad been arrested and conveyed into Connecticut, lie 
agreed with the secretary that the apprehension and pun- 
ishment of citizens was not his province, and that such 
power was only vested, in the provincial Congress. But, 
irregular as it was, he informed the secretary that he had 
been assured by many respectable men that Gale was a 
most dangerous man, and ought not to be suffered to re- 
main on Long Island, where ah enemy was more danger- 
ous than in any other part of America. 

Amid the tokens of resentment, which appear in his 
letter, Gen. Lee vouchsafes the information that ho has 


ordered Col Ward, then stationed at the Wallabout, to 
*t»curc the whole body of tories on Long Island. 1 How 
far the Colonel had proceeded with these arbitrary arrcsta 
and deportations, and what number of the inhabitants of 
Brooklyn and the adjacent towns had been so summarily 
disposed of, is not known ; but other names than such as 
appear on the journals of Congress, are found in the lei tera 
and publications of the day. The jealousy of Lee's rapid 
assumption of power, the humanity of the deputies, and 
their fear that the grim and haughty Tryon would retaliate 
with the lone-range ' cannon and mortars on board the 
Asia and Dutchess, combined to make Congress dread the 
effects of the precipitate energy of the district command- 
ant. Complaints of the severity with which the General's 
(Orders were executed, were received by the deputies from 
many of the most undoubted whigs on Long Island. 

One of Lee's most active agents in the work of clearing 
the Island " of the whole body of tories," was Lieut. Col. 
Isaac Sears, deputy adjutant-general of the forces in New 
York. His activity and zeal, tinged perhaps with a little 

l " i have this instant received your favor, relating to Mr. Gale who was 
apprehended and conveyed into Connecticut. I agree, sir, entirely with 
you, that the apprehension, trial and punishment of citizens is not my pro- 
vince, but that oi the provincial Congress. But irregular as it was, 1 had 
the assurances of many respectable men, that he was a most dangerous 
man, and ought not to be suffered to remain on Long Island, whore an cm my 
i* pi rhaps more dangerous than in any pari of America. However, their 
assurance and my opinion form no excuse, and I heartily repent that 1 did 
not refer him to you, his proper judges. I must inform you now, sir, that 
in consequence of the last instructions from the continental Congress, tu put 
this city and its environs in a state of defense, I have ordered .Col. N\ ard as 
8 previous measure to secure the whole body of professed tories on Long 
Island. When the enemy is at our door, forms must be dispensed with. 
My duty to y-m, to the continental Congress, and to my own conscunce, 
have dictated the necessity of the measure/' — Gen. Lie to the Cont 
1 igress. Journal of Provincial Congress,-^. O-bJ. 


unscrupulousness, that enabled him to assume rcspou ■ '. 
ties which would have staggered greater men, were qi 
ties which greatly recommended him for this service to hi 
General. His first report to Lee indicates that the feclino 
with which lie viewed a tory, was very like that whicb a 
cavalier of Prince Rupert's staff must have entertained for 
a rascally roundhead ; and he entered upon the hunt of the 
poor loyalists, with the eager spirit of a genuine sportsman. 
Captain Richard Hewlett had received special attention 
from Gen. Lee, who had ordered Col. Sears to permit no 
conditions to he offered to him, but at every hazard to 
secure his person, and send him a prisoner to Xew York. 
Captain Hewlett's character as a hard fighter, and his emi- 
nent fitness as a partisan leader, were thoroughly appre- 
ciated by Crcn. Lee, whose military experience enabled him 
at once to place a just estimate upon the qualities of the 
man. from the narration of his services in the French war. 
Col. Sears arrived at Newtown on March 6th, with a 
company of regulars, and compelled the attendance of four 
of the principal loyalists, to whom he proffered the alter- 
native of taking an oath, the terms of which had been 
doubtless concocted by Lee himself, or of being immedi- 
ately exiled from the Island. This new oath, which he says 
thev " swallowed as hard as if if were a four pound shot," 
probably included some humiliating concession, which 
those who had already taken the oath prescribed by tin 
Committee of Safety, found difficult of deglutition. On 
the next day Col. Sears sent out his scouting parties, which 
beat up the country lanes and farm-houses for the capture 
of fugitive loyalists: but the alarm had become general, 
and he was able to secure only five of the proscribed 



; rectus. These lie foniid to bo all " tones of the firsl 
rank,' 5 for the Colonel would hunt no common game; 
and >o persuasive and concise were his arguments, exile 
or the oath, that they followed the example of their com- 
rades and swallowed the latter. 1 

? fhetories had been so often hunted that they were now 
quick to take the alarm, and fly to the numeious places 
of concealment which they had provided. Not a few oi 
the loyalists of Queens county were in outlying during 
the whole winter, so frequent and ardent was the pursuit; 
and it is probable that' these hiding-places were rendered 
as comfortable as the rigor of the season would permit. 
Col. Scars complained, that the houses were so scattered 
that he found, it impossible to catch many of the proscribed, 
without horses to pursue them; but declared, in his letter 
to Lee, that he should exert himself to the utmost to cap- 
ture the ringleaders, and believed that he should effect it 
in five days. Notwithstanding his stout words, the Colo- 
nel was evidently half in despair, and wholly exasperated, 
by the readiness with which the intended victims eluded 
the pursuit. " I assure your honor," he says, " that there 
are a set of villains in this county, the better half of 

1 C'A. Sears to Gen. Lee. Jamaica, March 7th, 1776. 

Sir: Yesterday 1 arrived at Newtown with a captain's company and ten- 
dered the oath to four of the greatest tories, which they swallowed as hard 
"- if it was a four pound shut they were trying- to get down. On this day 
at 11 o'clock I came here, when I sent out scouting parties, and have been 
ahle to catch but five tories, and they of the first rank, who swallowed the 
oath. The houses are so scattered it is impossible to catch many without 
horses to ride after thein ; but I shall exert myself to catch the greatest part 
of the ringleaders, and believe 1 shall effect it, -but not in less than five days. 
I can assure your honor, there are a set of villains in this county, the better 
half of whom are waiting for support, and intend to rake up arms. Nothing 
els - will do but sending the ringleaders to a place of security. 

Lieut. Col. Isaac Sears, Dep. Ad. Gen. 


whom are waiting for support, and intend to take up arn 
Nothing else will do but sending the ringleaders to u 
place of security." 

Col. Sear- extended Lis niarehto Jamaica and Flushing, 
and performed the functions of his olKce with such sov< . ' 
that before the live days had expired a messenger, di 
patched from the Committee of Safety tor the secedeJ 
district of Great Xuek, appeared at the door of Congress. 
and urgently demanded a hearing, on behalf of the 
alarmed citizens of Queens county. Daniel Whitehead 
Kissam. a well known member of the Great Keck Coin- 
3 '• e, on the twelfth of March, made a statement to 
Congress of Col. Sears' proceedings, that aroused hot', 
alarm and resentment in that bodv. Among; the nro- 
scribed persons arrested by Col. Sears was Captain Jacob 

; - 

Mott, who had made his humble petition to Congress foi 
pardon, and had been released on taking the prescribed 
oath. "When apprehended, and carried a prisoner before 
Col. Sears, with natural resentment for the indignity, he 
refused at first to take the new oath, and presented the 
certificate of Congress that he had been restored by that 
body to good standing as a citizen ; but the puissant Colo- 
i; 'A would not dei^u to look at it. Captain Mott was com- 
pelled either to go into exile, and endure the restraint 
and degradation of a prison, or take the new oath. Hav- 
ing complied with the requisition, he was allowed to 
depart, taking a copy of the oath. 

Captain Mott, and three of his neighbors who had suf- 
fered the same indignity, by publicly stating the circum- 
stances of their re-arrest, were making more proselytes for 
the crown in a single day than Col. Sears and his soldier- 


, iid apprehend in a mouth. The leading loyalists every- 
where instilled the idea, that submission and neutrality 

v no safeguards, and that the promise of Congress to 
permit those who took the oath to live without further 
molestation, was illusory and insincere. The zealous Com- 
mittee of Safety for Great Neck and Cow Neck were 
ulurmed at the increasing confidence of the royalists, and 
the coolness of the friends of liberty, caused by the impo- 
litic severity of Lee's agent. Perhaps a little jealous}' for 
their newly acquired authority blended with other motives 
in the minds of the Committee; but, as we have seen, they 
lost no time in dispatching one of their number, with their 
earnest remonstrance, to the Congress in ISTew York They 
desired to be informed by what authority Col. Isaac Sears 
had intruded himself with an armed force into the limits 
of their district, and had taken upon himself to impose a 
new test upon persons who had already made their compo- 
sition with the constituted authorities. Air. Ivissam stated 
"that the people of Hempstead were much distressed, and 
the active committee of Great ISTeck and Cow i^eck as 
greatly dissatisfied; for the opinion was gaining ground 
that there was no safety in adhering to Congress, and that 
belief was tending to convert whigs into lories." 

A long debate ensued on the motion lo require Col. 
Sears to appear before Congress, and exhibit his authority 
for his conduct of the expedition against the tories on Long 
island. As the hand of Gen. Lee was clearly visible in the 
atuiir, the deputies were reluctant to enter upon an investi- 
gation which would surely result in an open rupture with 
him-; but, although action upon the motion was postponed, 
eommunication was had with Col. Sears, in answer 10 which 


he returned his letter of instructions from (Jen. Lee. On 
the sixth of March the struggle between the provincial Con- 
gress and Gen, Lee terminated, to their mutual satisfaction 
doubtless, in his relief from command of the district; Lord 
Stirling having on that day been ordered to the post. 1 

There was at this time in the colony of Xew York no 
department of power which could, by any license of speech, 
be called a Government. The continental Congress al 
Philadelphia was slowly, by common consent, concentrat- 
ing the scattered elements of authority, while the provincial 
Congress of New York, uncertain of the extent of its 
own power, experimented daily to ascertain it. Unprac- 
tised in the machinery of government, the moderate and 
patriotic men of which it was composed, erred both in 
assuming and in declining the essential responsibilities of 
their office. An illustration of the violent partisanship of the 
time, and the turbulent temper of the populace of the city, 
is afforded by the narration of the conduct of Christopher 

'For the benefit of those who find pleasure iu tracing in detail the trou- 
bled course of events on Long Island at tins period, this characteristic letter 
of Gen. Lee is appended : 
Lieut- Col. Isaac Son's. New Yokk, March -1th, 1776. 

Sir: As 1 have received information from the Commander-in-chief, that 
there is reason seen to expect a very considerable army v( the enemy, ti 
appears to me I shot;];] be in the highest degree culpable — I should be 
responsible to God, my own conscience, and the continental Congress of 
America — in suffering, at so dangerous a crisis, a knot of professed foes to 
American liberty to remain any longer within our own bosom, either to turn 
openly against us in arms, in conjunction with the enemy, or covertly to 
furnish them with intelligence, and carry on a correspondence, to the ruin of 
their country ; I must desire you will offer a copy of this test, enclosed, to 
the people of whom I send you a list. Their refusal will be considered an 
avowal of their hostile intention-. You are therefore to secure their persons 
ami send them -up, without loss of time, as irreclaimable enemies to their 
country, to close custody in Connecticut, tlichard Hewlett is to have no 
conditions offered to him, but to be secured without ceremony. Cltas. Lee, 
M aj . G en. — A merica n A rclt imm. 


Ihiyekinek, made in Congress on the 19th of February, 
; .. Comfort Sands, a native of Queens county, and one of 
the deputies from the city of New York. 

Among the numerous revolutionary tribunals, clubs and 
committees, which constituted the power or dictated the 
< ourse of government, was the committee of Mechanics, of 
\'<-vv York city, whose chairman was Christopher Duyck- 
iock. This violent and restless man, like most of those 
who obtain the position of leader of the populace in times of 
public disorder, combined the zeal of a fanatic in the revo- 
lutionary cause, with the unscrupulous purposes of a dema- 
gogue. During the recess of the ISTew York Congress, 
from December 22d, 1775, to February 12th, 177(3, Comfort 
Sands had, by its order, formed one of the Committee of 
Sa i'eiy, to which were delegated most of the powers of that 
body. Kon-inter course with the recusants of Long Island 
had been ordered by Congress, some time previously; and 
so rigidly was it maintained, that not only were they pro- 
hibited from selling any of their commodities, which all 
oilier persons were forbidden to purchase, but all such goods 
exposed for sale were liable to seizure and confiscation. 

One day a boatman, from Queens county, brought to 
the city a periagua loaded with wood, three-fourths of 
which were proven to belong to friends of Congress, and 
were therefore permitted by Mr. Sands to be sold. The 
confiscation of the remainder, belonging probably to one 
of his old neighbors, seemed perhaps so harsh a measure 
to the humane committee-man that he directed its return 
to the owner. The ire of Christopher Duyckinck, who, as 
leader of a Jacobin club, held the orders of Congress in 
contempt, was excited by this lenity to one of the disaf 


fleeted ; but as the torv wood was beyond his reach, and the 
owner resident in a district where Duyckinck would h iv< 
found it dangerous to serve a process, he determined to make 
reprisals upon Mr. Sands, whose humanity was so distaste- 
ful to him. As a compensation for the loss of the fuel, 
Duyckinck, either by personal violence, or by more prudent 
thieving, took possession of a watch belonging to Mr. Sand.-. 
As an excuse for this outrage, Duyckinck alleged that he 
had had the right to seize the contraband wood, which ho 
claimed to be of the value of forty shillings and sixpence; 
and as that loss had. occurred through Mr. Sands' violation 
of duty, he held him personally responsible for it. 

Duyckinck was summoned before the provincial Con- 
gress, at its next sitting in Xew York, and admitted the 
truth of Mr. Sands' statement, Justifying his conduct by the 
resolves of that body relating to the delinquents in Queens 
county, which had placed them out of the protection of 
the laws. The popular leader was not disposed to humble 
himself before Congress, and would neither return the 
watch, purloined from one of its members, nor admit that 
he had assumed unwarranted power. The Congress felt 
too sensibly how powerless it was to punish the audacious 
demagogue, with the city mob at his back, and permitted 
him to retire without decision on his case. It was neces- 
sary, however, for its own dignity and protection, that the 
matter should not be left to slumber without further notice, 
and in a few days the doorkeeper was directed to summon 
Duyckinck before the house. To exhibit his contempt 
and defiance of that body in the most public manner, the 
demagogue called in a number of his comrades as auditors 
of his contumelious reply to the messenger: " Tell the 


-- that I deny their authority 10 summon me, or to 
Idle in the matter, and that I will .not attend upon them 
until they expel Sands from the house, for he is a usurper 
. i I a coward; or until they bring me with a file of mus- 
keteers." Even this insolent defiance did not stino- the 
ities, and arouse sufficient resentment to cause thearrest 
of the vaporing demagogue: for a motion requesting Gene- 
ral Lee to take him into custody was laid on the table. 
The next day, however, Duyckinck was persuaded by s )me 
means to appear, and, being reprimanded for his con- 
tempt, expressed some -regret for his defiance of Con.. 
but when civilly requested by President "Woodhuli to return 
<he watch to its owner. Christopher was more reticent; he 
replied that he would take the matter into consideration, 
and retired, taking with him a copy of a resolution which 
had been passed, expressive of the opinion that he had 
acted very improperly in stealing Mr. Sands' wa 

Christopher Duyckinck paid no further attention to Con- 
gress, entertaining, as hie had the undoubted right to do, a 
sovereign contempt for its authority. The Jacobin leader 
was not, however, averse to usin^: the power of the Con- 
gress whose authority he derided, to crush a tory enemy : 
for the journals of the Committee of Safety record, that on 
the 17th of January he brought before it an unhappy loyal- 
ist, charged with the heinous crime of cursing the Con- 
gress with a heartiness which, in one of his proclivities, 
indicated a dangerous enmity. This was a liberty which 
1 ►uyckinck reserved to himself; and the pestilent tory was 
laid by the heels for assuming the royal prerogative. 1 

: " Azor Betts was ik-xi broi /..* before the i ►mmittee, and char«r»H.l by 
Christopher Duyckinck ^vith bavin . . tedtheCongi »s and 


The half crazed tory shopkeeper, who had Wen ruined b\ 
one of the military measures of Congress, admitted h.U 
disrespectful objurgations, and it was therefore 

"Resolved, That the said Azor Betts he sent to Ulster 
county jail, to he there confined in close jail until the 
farther orders of the continental or provincial Congress, 
or of this committee." 

Kingston jail was at this time crowded with fever- 
stricken and famishing prisoners, and it is probable that 
the profane Azor Betts took his portion there as a just 
punishment for a contempt of Congress, which Christo- 
pher Duyckinck had proclaimed with impunity. The 
sagacity of the truculent chairman of the Mechanics' club 
did not deceive him. He prognosticated that Congress 
would overlook his peccadilloes, in consideration of his 
influence with a powerful mob, whose ferocity the deputies 
had reason to dread. All the ire which this had exhibited 
toward Gov. Cadwallader Colden and other loyalists, 
whose houses had been sacked, and whoso persons had 
been outraged, in one of its paroxysms of frenzy, might at 
any moment be aroused against its own representatives. 
Not a month elapsed before Duyckinck" was again on the 
floor of Congress, confident and bold as ever, having this 
time been respectfully requested instead of summoned to 
appear, for the purpose of allowing him to make a report 
of his attempt to capture some spies and tory pilots on 
Long Island. Duyckinck was now apparently in high 

both continental and provincial, and said that they were a lot of damned 
rascals, and acted only to feather their own nests, and not to serve their 
country; that tJiey had &7mt up his shop, but that he hoped to see the day 
when he could shot them up, or overturn them." — Jour. N. Y. Com. oj 


»r with Congress, without having been compelled to 
■:, :.-] the humiliation of acknowledging its authority when 
.( took the liberty of differing from him in opinion. But 
it was impossible that two beads of the same government, 
both of which claimed original and supreme power, should 
exist without conflict; and accordingly, a month later, a 
charge of high misdemeanor was again preferred -against 
him, before the representative body. Samuel Loudon, a 
printer, caused a memorial to be presented, relating a 
gross outrage which bad been perpetrated upon him by 
this leader of the populace and bis myrmidons. 

A manuscript, written by a gentleman, not a resident 
of the city, which purported to be a review of Fame's 
pamphlet, Common Sense, had been sent to Loudon to be 
printed. As it appeared to be a proper subject for publi- 
cation, it was in process of composition, when an advertise- 
ment descriptive of its argument was inserted in Gr&ines' 
Mercury. Mr. Loudon bad calculated too largely upon 
the common sense of the public, which bad 110 indulgence 
for the printer who should set in type anything derogatory 
to its claim to that eminent quality; and he was therefore 
greatly surprised to receive a summons requiring bis ap- 
pearance before the Mechanics' committee. The peremp- 
tory warrant of this popular tribunal was not a document 
to be trifled with, like that of the provincial Congress. 
Whatever doubt the representative body might entertain 
regarding the limit of its powers, the other Congress, pre- 
sided over by Christopher Duyckinok, had not a particle 
of uncertainty resrardinff the extent of its own. The syllo- 

c CD CD • 

gisra by which it demonstrated its irresponsibility to a 
higher authority, was short, comprehensive, and exhaust- 


ivo. The people were the source of all power. Congress, 
as the mere agent of the people, possessed only such as was 
delegated to it. The Mechanics' committee were them- 
selves the people, and therefore unlimited in their autho- 
rity; and Christopher Duyckinck was their chairman. 

Loudon was now subjected to an inquisitorial examina- 
tion by the president of the revolutionary tribunal, the 
result of which was far from satisfactory to that dignitary, 
who launched the direst threats at the poor printer. To 
secure his property from destruction, as well as his person 
from violence, Loudon promised to suspend all work 
upon the pamphlet, and placed the keys of his premises 
in the hands of Duyckinck, His concessions were as 
vain as were the solemn assurances of the committee that 
he should be protected ; for, two hours subsequently, at 
midnight, Duyckinck marshalled forty of his Pretoriari 
guard, and entered Loudon's house, from which they 
carried all the impressions of the pamphlet, and burned 
them upon the Common. Congress, in one respect, 
reciprocated the scorn of Duyckinck; for, as he repu- 
diated its action, and defied its power, the deputies con- 
cluded to have nothing further to do with him. They 
accordingly postponed the consideration of Loudon's me- 
morial for a week, and never troubled themselves more 
upon the subject. 1 

Notwithstanding the iron rule of Gen. Lee had caused 
such general uneasiness, and had incited the order for bis 
removal from the military command of Long Island, the 
renewed activity of the loyalists compelled the resort to 

1 Jo u ma I of Com 1 1 itti e of Softy, 405 . 


-•.ill sterner measures, almost immediately upon his retire- 
ment. Suspected tories were constantly found patroling, 

with butter arms tiiati ever, the great bush-plains, or 
navigating the sinuous salt-water creeks, ostensibly in pur- 
suit of game. That they still continued to hold their seeret 
conclaves, were organized in military bands, and met at 
some secret and well guarded rendezvous, in the wide 
tracts of scrub oak, and pine forests, which still cover 
more than half the Island, was evident from many circum- 
stances. Their confident and reserved, bearing, and their 
increasing though silent aversion to republican measures, 
greatly alarmed the whigs. Bay by day their activity 
became more observable, and vastly increased the labor of 
the friends of Congress to counteract its effects. Lord Stir- 
ling early found the necessity of adopting energetic mea- 
sures to prevent intercourse with the British ships in the 
harbor, to which the loyalists of the Island supplied pilots. 
Soon after assuming command, he wrote to Col. Ward, 
who was still at the head of the forces in Brooklyn, with 
the assurance that his communication was made in the 
strictest confidence of secrecy, and directing him to per- 
mit no person to read its contents. 1 The letter contained 
the most explicit orders for a difficult and important ser- 
vice. Col. Ward was directed to detach two of his most, 
skilful and trusted officers, each with a detachment of 
twenty picked men, who were to proceed to the vicinity of 
the Xarrows upon a secret enterprise. The expedition re- 
quired great adroitness, and every step was to be guarded, 
so as to preserve profound secrecy regarding its purpose. 

1 Stirling's litter to Col. Ward, March 8th, 1770. 


It was designed to capture or kill a certain resident of 
Now Utrecht, named Frank James, whose adroitness and 
activity, while serving at once as a pilot and a privateer 
had hitherto enabled him to evade every attempt for his 
seizure, while he inflicted great losses upon the whigs, by 
the destruction of their vessels. It was known that he 
often landed near his residence, where lie remained during 
the night; hut so mysterious were his movements, that he 
appeared at times and places where his presence was least 
suspected, and vanished as mysteriously as he had come. 
He possessed great art in contriving and carrying into 
effect the devices by which lie decoyed vessels loaded with 
supplies for the troops of Congress, under the fatal guns of 
the Phoenix man of war, commanded by Captain Parker. 
Several vessels, of great importance to the Americans, 
had, by various crafty plans, been drawn into the trap, 
and had fallen almost without resistance into his hands. 

Perfectly familiar with the intricacies of the harbor 
channels, and the numerous inlets and creeks that wind 
their course around the reedy islands of Jamaica bay, lie 
was equally at home on the laud or at sea, by day or night. 
Combining thus the functions of pilot and of spy, lie had 
become so dangerous an enemy, that every effort for his 
capture or destruction must be put forth. The residents of 
that part of Kings county which he haunted, known by 
Lord Stirling to be wholly in sympathy with t lie British, 
were suspected of aiding the pilot spy by enabling him to 
escape the toils hitherto prepared for him; and no effort 
was therefore to be spared, in concealing the presence of the 
scouting parties. Lord Stirling at. the same time informed 
Col. Ward that other residents of that neighborhood 


«.vei c believed to act as pilots and decoys, but their names 
v i re unknown to him. Their persons, however, he -was 
assured, were well known to Mr. Christopher Duyckinck; 
and Col. Ward was directed to avail himself of his services, 
together with those of two or three guides familiar with 
the route of the expedition. 

Since his reprimand by Gen. Woodhnll, at the bar of 
Congress, Duyckinck's restless hatred of tories had found 
employment requiring all his audacity, and more than all 
his skill and courage. .He had been commissioned to 
arrest or kill the daring pilot, whose piratical enterprises 
had long before alarmed Congress. Duyckinck, in pursu- 
ance of his design, had several nights lain in wait for James, 
and, on each occasion, had watched him as he came on 
shore, and dogged him to his haunts. The pilot, was, 
however, always accompanied by twenty or thirty armed 
British soldiers. Christopher Duyckinck was invincible at 
the head of a mob, when nothing more formidable than a 
house occupied by females was to be sacked, or a Quaker 
committee man was to be robbed; but he had little affec- 
tion for loaded muskets, and armed soldiers he fervently 
abhorred. In his report to Congress, he says, that with- 
out the presence of twenty or thirty men, it will be 
impossible to apprehend the pilots whose persons had 
become familiar to him in his various reconnoissances. 
Duyckinck declared that while engaged in his last scout- 
ing enterprise, he had witnessed, from his hiding place, 
the capture of a brigantiue loade.d with salt, rum, and 
BUear, by a small craft that sailed from under the nuns of 
the Phcenrx, and that the redoubtable Frank James had 
gone out in the vessel which effected the capture. It was 


in consequence pf this information that the enterprise I 

the capture of these dangerous men was set on foot. 

The instructions to Col. Ward were issued on the eighth 
of Marchj and upon that or the following night the expedi- 
tion set out from the camp in Brooklyn. Two parties of 
picked men, with three days' supply of cooked rations, 
and twenty rounds of ammunition, having waited until 
near the hour of moon-rising, marched to the place of 
rendezvous in profound silence, under the direction of 
Duyckinck and his comrades, in whom they were directed 
to place the most implicit confidence. The march was 
pressed with the greatest rapidity by the detachments, in 
order to arrive at their stations before daylight; where thej 
immediately separated, and scoured the shore of the hay 
and the creeks, to secure every boat that could be used to 
communicate with the British ships, by cutting holes in 
their bottoms with hatchets brought for the purpose. 
The sails and oars were then secreted, and the men them- 
selves, before the day had dawned sufficiently for their 
detection, had founel secure hiding places among the reeds 
and thickets. In these they remained for two days, sally- 
ing out at night, to scour the adjacent country and watch 
the suspected houses; but, notwithstanding all their vigil- 
ance, the expedition was unsuccessful. "Warned by some 
secret signal, concerted with the numerous friends of the 
royal cause in Xew Utrecht, or protected by their good 
fortune, neither the daring pilot nor any of his comrades 
fell into the hands of the whigs. 

More than a month subsequently, the bold marauder 
sailed the craft which was known by his own name, up 
the Roekaway inlet into Jamaica bay, with the design oi' 


metering tlie country market-boats, and levying tribute 
wuon such of the whig inhabitants as lie could capture. 

On one of the mud shoals of that wide but shallow bay, 
his vessel ran aground, and was soon left immovably fixed 
I v llie receding tide. A party of the American troops, 
by whom the shore was now constantly patroied, discover- 
i:i^ the plight of the detested rover, succeeded by some 
means in bringing two field-pieces to bear upon his craft, 
winch would in a short time have been battered to pieces. 
Their hopes of securing his person were, however, speedily 
put to rest: for, on observing the near approach of his 
enemies, the marauder and his crew took to their long 
boat, and were soon beyond the reach of cannon shot. 
The abandoned craft, which had aided him in the accom- 
plishment of so much mischief, fell into the hands of his 
whig enemies. An examination of the armament of the 
captured privateer did not contribute much to the reputa- 
tion for bravery of the crews of the vessels he had plun- 
dered, for it was found to consist of four painted wooden 
guns. A swivel ^m\, which formed his onlv offensive 
armament, was doubtless carried away by the crew in 
their flight. 1 

Iii the judgment of Washington it had now become a 
matter of the highest consequence to the success of the 
American arms, that Long Island should either be depopu- 
lated of its loyalist inhabitants, or be completely isolated 

1 This redoubtable pilot and privateer, Frank James, escaped all the toils 
of his adversaries, and entered New York with the victorious British army. 
(, "i its surrender to Washington, seven years after, the wily and active 
loyalist concluded that he could nut safely trust Ids person within reach of 
his old neighbors, with whose commodities he had taken such liberties, 
• • I he accordingly expatriated himself to .Nova Scotia, tV'here he dud. 


from communication with the ships of war. Instead of 
wholesale deportations, and new test oaths enforced upon 
its inhabitants, Congress adopted the plan of arming and 
organizing the wings, and of keeping the disaffected dis- 
tricts constantly patroled by detachments, under prudenl 
and energetic leaders. A squad of horsemen was directed 
by the Committee of Safety for Great j^eck and Cow 
l^cck, to patrol the beach at Kockaway; aud Thomas 
Cornell's house was designated as their rendezvous. It 
will be observed that the patrol was selected from a dis- 
trict fifteen miles distant from its field of operations, 
doubtless in consequence of the fact that neither Kings 
nor Queens counties contained any other organization 
which could be relied upon. Detachments of troops were 
also sent to various points along the coast and beach, 
while armed boats were constantly rowing along Jamaica 
bay and the great South bay, entering their numerous 
inlets in the night, and lying hidden among the reed:: 
which bordered them during the day, to intercept the 
craft, the crews of which constantly endeavored to hold 
communication with the British vessels of war in the 
harbor. The country people had hitherto kept the fleet 
well supplied, not only with fresh provisions, but with 
the oysters and fish which the neighboring bays afforded 
in exhaustless quantities. It was under color of fur- 
nishing these products of the waters, that they had been 
able hitherto to board the enemy's vessels in the night 
without detection. In these visits the disaffected were 
encouraged to preserve their loyalty, untarnished by 
association with the Congressional party; were assured 
of support from his Majesty's army and navy, and were 


nt>l>Uc<] with effective weapons and ammunition, in place 
■ :' the worthless arms surrendered to Col. Heard. 

Between these parties and the whig boat-patrols, ensued 
many a stirring conflict and dangerous adventure. Capt. 
Benjamin Birdsall, the commanding officer of the detach- 
ment which guarded the coast for seven miles east of 
Hempstead, had been chosen by Lord Stirling because 
of his special fitness for this service. It was in vain that 
the skill of the shrewd bay-men was exerted to delude 
him, for there was not a device of the sportsman, or an 
in let, creek, or channel, with which he was not familiar; 
and his energy and celerity were fully equal to the accom- 
plishment of his arduous duty. Captain Birdsall, up to 
the period of the Revolution, had been a drover-farmer, liv- 
ing at Jerusalem. His occupation had doubtless given him 
a taste for adventure, and had so toughened his frame that 
he had but a short apprenticeship to serve, to fit him for 
the trade of soldier. Besides these qualities, his constant 
intercourse with the sharper wits of the city traders enabled 
him to penetrate the ever-changing disguises of his rural 
neighbors, less skilled in artful devices than those with 
whom he was accustomed to deal. A reputation for that 
sharpness in trading which borders upon but never touches 
dishonesty, had left him in that anomalous position with 
regard to respectable society where the man hangs upon 
its skirts, scarcely admitted to its intercourse, yet without 
having sufficiently offended to authorize his rejection. 
The half respectable jockey and trader is generally tolerated 
in society, if he has been successful, without outraging it 
by scandalous offenses. Birdsall/s association with the 



stout butchers of the city, where revolutionary doctrine* 
pervaded all the trading classes, had doubtless prepared 
.him for their ready adoption; and when the time came for 

the separation of the town's people into loyalists and Asso- 
ciators, he joined the ranks of the latter. 

The Committee of Safety of Queens county, had issued 
orders for Captains Birdsail and Nostrand to secure all the 
boats from Huntington to Rockaway, a distance of eigh- 
teen miles. From the seven miles of coast, which were in 
the district assigned to Birdsail, his activity enabled him to 
collect one hundred and six hay-boats, which he secured 
by towing a part of them up the salt creek near his house, 
while the remainder were dragged high up on the land, 
w here the sun and wind speedily rendered them unservice- 
able. This severity of treatment, of a population which 
derived the largest part of its sustenance from the waters, 
was as unsuccessful, however, as it was impolitic and arbi- 
trary. Unfortunately for its object, the remaining eleven 
miles of coast were guarded by a patrol possessed of less 
zeal, or more scrupulousness, than Capt. Birdsail. Nearly 
as many boats as had been secured by this active partisan, 
were, hv the negligence or design of his associate officers, 

J c/ O- O CD ' 

permitted to escape to the British fleet. It is the privilege 
of the conquered malcontents, in every land, to vent their 
repressed hatred in pasquinades and doggerel rhymes. 
These missiles had been hurled at Col. Heard by the exas- 
perated but overawed loyalists; and, as every military ex- 
pedition against the disaffected resulted in another string 
of couplets, Captain Birdsail did not escape their satire. 
The partisan leader repaid it a few weeks later, as will 
be seen in the course oi' our narrative, with sharper 


missiles, when lie hunted them as fugitives through the 

tramps. 1 

The severest measures of the provincial Congress did 
not, however, satisfy the fierce ardor of the whigs of the 
..ceded, district of Great Xeck. These restless descend- 
ants of the Puritans, the first practical revolutionists in 

the northern states, were fired with a zeal which did not 
permit them to slumber over the mine they had them- 
selves charged. Their champion and leader, Benjamin 
Sund^j was an energetic and sleepless foe of the loyalists; 
and the quiet neutrality which the latter assumed, did not 
impose upon his credulity, or satisfy his nervous patri- 
otism. The 2s*ew York Congress had issued a circular 
letter to the whigs of Long Island, requesting all persons, 
who could furnish any evidence against the nineteen 
loyalists who had been returned upon their hands from 
Philadelphia, to communicate it to President WoodhulL 
This was a business which Colonel Benjamin Sands set 
about with the keenest appetite for the employment, as it 
afforded him an opportunity to lay his old loyalist adver- 
saries by the heels. His reply to the circular is exrjui-itely 
characteri>tie of a busy, earnest, sharp-dealing revolution- 
ist, who is sadlv annoyed that he cannot conscientiously 
criminate the whole batch of tories then in durance. 
lie apologizes ingenuously for his inability to testify to the 
criminal loyalty of more than one of the prisoners, who 
happened to reside in his district. This unhappy tory 

3 Mr. Onderdonk lias preserved two of fches£ verses iii his Revolutionary 

Ben Bircham i= a committee man Ben Bircham is a committee man 

The tories don't regard him ; Do you want to know the reason J 

And when he's ran his infill race A bi^cr rogue cannot be found 

The d— 1 will reward him. To cheat when there's occasion. 

1 See this curious letter, Document III. 

' It was the zealous Gol. Sands, who naively wrote to Congress that ho 
"had cited Timothy Smith, Esq., an inactive icing, before him for interroga- 
tion, but that the said Smith had evaded a: tendance, and was in consequence 
suspected of being " too good evidence to be permitted to escape, and shoulJ 


gentleman, Daniel Kissam, received the full benefit ■ | 
the patriotic zeal of his old neighbor, who remember* 
every idle expression or hasty word of resentment, wrim- 
from a hot temper by the daily exasperations he had suf- 
fered, and who now reported all this imprudent language 
with the fidelity of a stenographic reporter. Each asseve- 
ration which he charges upon the unlucky torv, is forth 
fied by the name of a witness; and if, in consequence, his 
Majesty's justice, Daniel Ivissam, is not hanged, then cir- 
cumstantiality and minuteness of eaves-dropping evidence 
are utterly thrown away. 1 

A few days after making his report, Sands found occa- 
sion for the exercise of his zeal in resisting the immigration 
of the loyalists of 2s"ew England, who, routed from their 
homes by the potent influence of tar and feathers, and 
other revolutionary arguments, were seeking refuge on 
Long Island. The district Committee was summoned to 
take the matter into consideration ; and a series of resolu- 
tions was accordingly adopted, which declared "that the 
favored section of America they inhabited, instead of being 
an asylum for the good and virtuous, was about to become 1 
a nest for those noxious vermin, the disaffected of other 
districts." It was therefore determined " that no manner 
of person must hereafter presume to move into the district, 
without a certificate signed by the chairman of the Com- 
mittee of that district whence he removed, that he is 
friendly to the cause of his bleeding country." 2 


li was becoming more and more difficult for either the 
• ialignaut tory or the conscientious loyalist to find a spot 
upon which to set hia foot in peace. At the next meet- 
in <* of his Committee, Benjamin Sands submitted a form 
of denunciation which was thenceforward to be launched 
nt the heads of the disaffected who had the temerity to 
reside in his district. Its rigorous penalties were appa- 
rently borrowed from some ancient form of excommunica- 
tion, and "enjoined all persons to break off every kind 
of civil, mechanical, and commercial intercourse with the 
deluded and obstinate person, or answer for their disobe- 
dience of this interdict at their peril/ 3 x 

A resolution of the continental Congress, passed in 
March of this year, enabled the whi?;s of Lous; Island to 
exercise a still more rigorous severity toward the obsti- 
nate, but still non-resistant tones. The armed troops of 
the provincial Congress having signally failed to secure all 
the arms of the disaffected, the Committees of Safety were 
recommended to take upon themselves the task of disarm- 
ing all those who would not sign the articles of Association, 
hut they were enjoined to proceed with all prudence and 
moderation. The Committees of Safety en Long Island, 
with the fervor of zealots, eagerly accepted the powers 
conferred by the Congressional resolution, with but slight 
regard for the conditions attached. They now ordered all 
. the inhabitants of the three counties to be enrolled in 
military organizations, and proceeded shortly to the ex- 
tremity of compelling whig and tory alike into the ranks 

lx> taught that lie was guilty of an impertinence in allowing his own 
to take precedence of the Committee's summons. 

l The exact language of the form of denunciatioD adopted. Sec < 
'■' ink's Revolutionary Incidents of Queens County, 54. 


of the militia. The punishment for violation or neglecl 

this edict was often executed with great severity. Tl 
good- and chattels of the delinquents were seized, and 
sold at public auction, or sequestrated for public use. 
Fines for non-attendance upon the days of militia parade 

were levied, and the names of the absentees published, as 
enemies of their country. Twelve of the inhabitants of 
Jamaica, in a petition to the provincial Congress, gave 
such reasons for their non-compliance with these ordi- 
nances, as it must have sorely puzzled both that body and 
Benjamin Sands to refute. Tbeir plea stated that Colonel 
Heard, in disarming the loyalists of Queens county, had 
required them to swear to live peaceably, and in no man- 
ner to engage in opposition to Congress ; and in return 
had promised them, in its name, security from further 
molestation. Thus deprived of arms by one edict, they 
were now required by another to appear armed on parade : 
and although they had been assured of peaceable posses- 
sion of their goods and estates, their cattle and agricultural 
implements had been seized by Captain Ephriam Bailey, 
and sold for half their value, to pay the tines levied for not 
engaging in a cause which they conscientiously believed 
to be unlawful. These vexations lines, and humiliating 
denunciations, it must be recollected, were the provisional 
regulations of an authority no higher than that of a militia 
captain, who was at once legislator, judge, prosecuting 
attorney, and sheriff. 

An instance of the exercise of these somewhat incongru- 
ous functions, so characteristically portrays the state of so- 
ciety that it will repay perusal. An obstinate felt maker 
of Cow Xeck, named Wooiey, had been enrolled in Cant. . 
John Sands' company, which was mustered once a month 



for military exercise, but had failed to appear in the ranks, 
or to give an acceptable excuse for his delinquency. Capt. 
Sands, having in his capacity of law-maker enacted a pen- 
alty for a misdemeanor which offended him as a military 
commander, and having- { n his high function of judge 
pronounced the offender guilty and sentenced him to pay 
such fines as seemed proper, now assumed the character of 
sheriff, and seized a hat alleged to be worth fifty shillings, 
which he sold for thirty to. pay the fines. TVooley sought 
redress by making his complaint to a magistrate of Hemp- 
stead, but the power of that functionary of royalty had 
passed away. The exasperated loyalist, now half crazed 
by the vigorous measures of the whig captain, appeared at 
the next parade, and challenged him to fight with sword 
and pistol. His behavior was so outrageous, that it would 
naturally be expected that a militia captain who had re- 
cently performed such high functions, would, under such 
provocation, have exerted a moderate degree of power, in 
immediately putting the frantic tory under arrest. But 
Captain Sands endured his violence with the most exem- 
plary meekness for half an hour; when, the passion of the 
offender having exhausted itself, and his temper having 
become so pacific as to strip the task of personal risk, he 
was arrested, and sent under guard to the Queens county 
jail. That institution, however, was presided over by 
Hope Mills, a keeper appointed by the royal authority; 
who declared that he was not the jailer of Congress, and 
had no authority to incarcerate a person sentenced by it. 
Capt. Sands, surprised that any person should be so ab- 
surdly regardful of the forms of law. carried Ids prisoner 
before the sheriff" Thomas Willetts, whom he urged to take 


the culprit into custody. The sheriff, also, was a stickler 
for legal technicalities, and somewhat authoritatively di- 
rected Capt. Sands not to detain his prisoner without a war- 
rant from a magistrate. Released from custody, \Yooley at 
once made known his purpose to prosecute the guard which 
had been perambulating the county with him as a prisoner. 
. Representations of the affair were made to the provincial 
Congress, and that body ordered the recusant to be appre- 
hended and sent to Xew York, with, all convenient speed. 
Presided over bv the humane and intelligent Wbodhull, 
the Xew York. Congress was not less remarkable for its 
patriotism than for its lenity and forbearance ; and on this 
occasion we should expect that the culprit would receive 
the benefit of its mild authority. Brought before that body, 
his addled wits barely enabled him to make a statement as 
striking for its humility, as it was for the clearness with 
which his story established the hardship of his treatment. 
He said that he had not believed that Captain Sands pos- 
sessed the authority to call him under arms; but, after he 
had been fined, he had attended the parade with the deter- 
mination not to insult his officer, when the latter insulted 
him first, by calling him "a fellow." In the heat of his 
resentment he had challenged Sands to fight, and he had 
understood him to accede to the proposal. The prisoner 
declared that he had no arms, but was willing to bear them 
in the service of Congress, if it was the opiinon of that body 
that he should Notwithstanding his submission, and the 
evident hardship of his case, Congress, by a bare majority, 
remanded him to the custody of his guard, with peremp- 
tory directions to the Queens county jailer to keep him 
securely, at his own expense, until further directions. The 


thrifty Congress thus vindicated its dignity without expense 
to the new commonwealth. Immured in jail for a month, 
the prisoner again made his humble petition, and was 

As the purposes of the revolutionists became more 
settled, and their new moulded expectations hardened 
into firm resolves, their rule grew sterner and harsher 
towards their tory neighbors. The whigs had now gone 
too far to hope for pardon, and the tories must either array 
themselves on the side of the revolution, or cease to exist. 
Even submissive neutrality could no longer be permitted. 
On the first of May, 1776, an enrolment of all residents 
of Long Island, capable of bearing arms, was made by 
order of Congress. The number of able-bodied men 
found in Queens county was seventeen hundred and seventy. 
The militia enrolled in Suffolk county numbered a few 
more than two thousand; while that of Kings was only five 
hundred and eighty. The quota drawn from them to 
reinforce the Continental army was two hundred from Suf- 
folk, one hundred and seventy-live from Queens, and 
fifty-eight from Kings county. It was arranged that the 
Queens county militia should be mustered in fourteen 
companies, the officers of which were appointed, and 
received their commissions, by the middle of June. 

The most stringent efforts were now put forth to force 
every man, loyalist and whig alike, into the ranks of the 
militia, The iron despotism of military discipline, it was 
believed, would soon surround them all with its invisible yet 
impassable walls. Xot withstanding the sleepless vigilance 
of the whig committees, and of the partisan bands which 
patrolled the island, by far the largest part of the inha- 


bitants of Kings and Queens counties sturdily refused to 
appear in arms against the royal cause. Squads of armed 
whigs, constantly in active pursuit, arrested the disaffected, 
and thrust them with entire indifference into the ranks, or 

the common jail. The severities with which the loyalists 
were now pursued afforded a fatal precedent for the 
British; and the subsequent sufferings of whig prisoners 
in the provost, the sugar houses, and the prison ships, arc 
attributable, in some degree, to the rigors inflicted by their 
own partisans at this time. 1 The jails throughout the 
northern colonies were soon crowded with the Xew York 
loyalists, a large proportion of whom were sent from Long 
Island. The swamps and brush plains swarmed with them, 
in outlying, to escape the severities practiced upon them 
by the patrolling bands of the whig committees. The 
housebreaker and the philanthropist, the ruffian and the 
gentleman, he who plundered the whig under the guise 

3 The passive noncompliance of the established church gave almost as 
great offense to the wings as the active resistance of the most embittered 
tories. " The clergy arc everywhere threatened, often reviled with the most 
opprobrious language, sometimes treated with brutal violence. Some have 
been carried prisoners by armed mobs into distant provinces, where they 
were detained in close confinement for several weeks, and much insulted, 
without any crime being even alleged against them. Some have been 
flung into jails by committees for frivolous suspicions of plots, of which 
even their persecutors afterwards acquitted them. Sunn- who were obliged 
to fly their own province to save their lives, have been taken prisoners, 
S"nt back, and are threatened to be tried for their lives because they fled 
from danger. Some have been pulled out of the reading desk because they 
prayed for the king, and thai before independency was declared. Others 
have been warned to appear at militia musters witb their arms, have been 
fined tor not appearing, and threatened with imprisonment for not paying 
those fines. Others have had their houses plundered, etc., etc. Were every 
instance of this kind faithfully collected, it is probable that the sufferings of 
the American clergy would appear not inferior in many respects to those of 
the English clergy in the great rebellion of the last century." — State of 
tin Ann. firo.u Ch " rch, /'// Jive. Charles Inglis ; published in Hawkins? Mis- 
sivhs, and Documentary History of New York. 


<»f a loyalist, and lie whose high convictions of duty com- 
I idled his allegiance to the crown, were alike immured 

in the common jails. From their pestiferous cells the 
pleadings of many a manly voice could he heard, and 
the ears of the provincial Congress were tilled with peti- 
tions for relief from incarceration. There were nohle 
names attached to some of these documents; descendants, 
at least, of some of the best citizens of the colonies. On 
Long Island, the growing rigor of republican rule was 
felt, with bitter chagrin, by some whose names are emi- 
nent for qualities that are held illustrious iu all ages, and 
whose virtues and talents have preserved their memory 
in high esteem in spite of the rancor of partisan hatred. 
There was at this time residing at. Islip a quaker gentle- 
man of some estate, in whom the troubles of the times 
developed a perspicuity of reason, and an acuteness of 
analysis, that have left their ineffaceable mark upon our 
language. Lindley Murray, whose name is almost as de- 
voutly hallowed for his virtues as it is famous for his emi- 
nence in learning, had retired to this remote and quiet spot 
to escape the angry turbulence of the city ; but his benevo- 
lence would not permit him to remain in idleness while 
so many of his countrymen were suffering for want of one 
of the common necessaries of life, for which he saw a 
remedy in his own power to bestow. The strict blockade 
of the port, preserved by the British cruisers, had so 
obstructed the transactions of commerce that salt, was 
sold at a price which made it almost unattainable by the 
poor. To supply this want, Mr. Murray established salt 
works at Islip, and devoted himself to the manufacture. 
The kindly quaker was but little molested in person by 


Lis whig neighbors, but lie retired from the country to the 
city when he saw the rancor wMoh was kindling between 
the factions, and the severity with which some of his loy- 
alist friends were treated. The aged Cadwallader Coldcn, 
now only titular Lieutenant Governor of Xew York, was 
residing at Jamaica, but his age and dignity did not relieve 
him from the attentions of his whig neighbors. His repu- 
tation for learning, and his literary eminence, have caused 
his loyalist devotion to be forgotten. America has for- 
given his letters to the royal Ministers, who were roused 
to wrath against her by their contents, in consideration of 
his nobler works, the History of the Fire Nations, and 
Some Considerations on the Origin of Matter. This learned 
and amiable man, who had been the friend and corre- 
spondent of Newton, Linnams, and Franklin, had been 
driven from New York by the most humiliating outrages 
only a year previously. His mind, even at his great age, 
was keenly alive to the miseries he foresaw would ensue ; 
and on one occasion, when he addressed a few of his plain 
country neighbors, who waited upon him at Jamaica for 
his advice in the ominous juncture of colonial affairs, Gov. 
Coldcn was affected to tears. He was greatly annoyed by 
the espionage, which constantly attended his movements, 
and by the evil reports which were spread by revolutionary 
zealots, who could not conceive that an old man of eighty- 
seven years, who had been Lieutenant Governor, was not 
still a formidable adversary. Letters were frequently re- 
ceived by Congress, and by the committees of safety, which 
denounced him for complicity with the counter revolu- 
tionary measures of Governor Try on and the British gene- 
rals ; and he was made to feel, in various ways, the restraint 


aiHl durance imposed upon all who were not active revo- 
lutionist^. His family were now suffering tlie more 
stringent penalties inflicted on the adherents to the crown. 
Cadwallader Colden, his son, who resided at Spring hill, 
near Flushing, had been seized early in the year 1770, by 
the whigs, and placed in custody, lie was transferred 
toon after to Kingston prison, in the cells of which he was 
now kept in close confinement. Letters exist, written by 
him to Congress at this time, regarding the sufferings of 
himself, and other gentlemen," which, were it not for the 
overshadowing atrocities subsequently perpetrated by the 
British, would seem monstrous to us. At the same time, 
there was residing at Flatbush another person, not only 
venerated on account of his great age and the dignity of the 
office of Chief Justice of the colony, which he had held 
many years, but honored even at this day for his legal and 
literary abilities. This gentleman was Judge Daniel 
Ilorsemanden, at this time eighty-three years of age, 
more than thirty of which had been spent in the service 
of the king and the colony. lie had been appointed 
under a commission of the great seal to investigate the 
affair of the burning of the Gaspee, and sat on the bench at 
the trial of the negroes engaged in the conspiracy to bum 
the city. He is remembered chiefly for his History of (he 
Negro Plot; but he possessed eminent qualities of mind 
which entitle his name to lasting regard on other o-rounds 
than mere literary ability. Neither his age, services, nor 
talents could exempt him from sharing in some measure 
the unpleasant consequences of thinking differently from his 
neighbors; although it seems to us, after a century lias 
cooled the revolutionary fever in our veins, (hat the fidelity 


of an aged servant to his royal master, might have been 
forgiven without serious damage io the republic. lLe wan 
seized, by order probably of the Kings county committee 
and sent out of the colony. The party of whigs who 
guarded him, found that Ids great age and infirmities re- 
quired so much care and labor in his transportation, that they 
were soon glad to relieve themselves of the trouble of per- 
forming the injunctions of the committee, by leaving him 
upon the road. Judge Horsemanden died two years subse- 
quently, at Flatbush, and was buried in Trinity church 

Cruelty appears so irrational that the historian is often 
puzzled to account for its sudden manifestation without a 
corresponding provocation. But it will seldom fail to be 
discovered, on closer search, that there is a link in the 
chain of events wanting, and that the violence and inhu- 
manity at which we shuddered were the fruitful harvest 
sown by former partisan rigor and persecution. Of all 
the vile seeds which lie dormant in the human heart, none 
is so rapid in its germination, and so prolific in its fruit, as 
revenge. The horrors of the prison-ship, the provost jail, 
and the sugar h\>use, were the in some respects monstrous 
retaliation of tories who had suffered from the harrying 
and imprisonment inilicted by over zealous whigs. 

The loyalists of Long Island were too numerous for 
their whig neighbors to subject them to the severe measures, 
which converted many an unhappy tory into a sullen whig 
in other parts of the colony of Xew York. Xot always, 
however, even into grudging friends; for the terrible cas- 
tigations which some of the more obstinate loyalists 
underwent, turned them into malignant fiends. The hu- 


initiating exposure of their naked persons to the indigni- 
ties perpetrated by mobs, while receiving the various forms 

of republican discipline, exasperated many a moderate 
tory to a frenzy of revenge, that made him a vindictive 
scourge. Numbers of poor wretches, who had in some 
unguarded moment expressed a preference for the old 
government, under which they had been reared, were 
clothed in the republican habit of penance — a coat of tar 
and feathers — which possessed some infernal quality that 
changed them into monsters, as pitiless in soul as this 
cruel treatment had made them hideous in person. It 
was in consequence of such punishment that Simon Girty 
fled from civilization, and sought only to excel his savage 
associates in cruelty; and James Moody, of "New Jersey, 
revenged his torments by murdering nearly a hundred 

'We cannot learn that the torture of the hickory rod, 
the laceration of the person by the rough fence rails, 
sometimes amounting to mutilation, or the humiliation of 
tar and feathers, so common elsewhere, were ever practiced 
on Long Island; but there were other heavy penalties in 
store for the offenders against republican sovereignty. In 
all the counties of the island, occupied as they were by 
colonists impelled by such widely varying motives, there 
was felt the mild influence of the moderate and religious 
Hollander, and the conscientious humanity of the Puritan, 
to soften the rancor of partisan hate. 

Meanwhile, on board the Asia man-of-war, off New 
Utrecht shore, crouched that grim old lion, Governor 
Try on, watching with eyes red with anger the island he 
was soon to ravage. From the cabin of that vessel he 


issued his mandates as Governor, and dictated his dispatcher 
to Lord Germaiue. lie assured the secretary of state thai 
the warmest representations of loyalty bad been made to 
him by tbe best men of Long Island, which enabled him 
to assure his lordship that only a small portion of it- 
mhabitants were unfaithful to the crown. Lord Germaine 
replied with assurances of tbe great gratification his Majesty 
had felt on receiving the favorable relation of Governor 
Tryon ; and the latter strove vigorously to make good his 
assurances. 1 

Attending the Governor on board the man-of-war, was 
a personage of Long Island birth, who had acted a promi- 
nent part in the outrages which had excited the people of 
[North Carolina to revolution. Tins was Edmund Fanning, 
the private secretary of Gov. Tryon, and the executioner 
of his most atrocious acts of tyranny. Eight years before, 
the rapacity of Secretary Fanning, joined to the arrogance 
and oppression of Gov. Tryon, had driven the North Caro- 
linians to revolt. By the exaction of enormous fees for 
marriage licenses, he had compelled a large number of 
families to associate without the legal forms of matrimony; 
and by the extortion of ruinous charges fur the reissue of 
deeds to the small proprietors, he had exasperated many 
of them to the verge of desperation. 

When, in 1768, the revolt which his atrocities had excited 
was subdued, Farming's cruelty found ample food to 
satiate his revenge in the execution of the revolutionists. 
Eut the climax of his villanies was only reached in 1771, 
when, having taken James Few prisoner in a skirmish. 

1 Gffe. I't-ij-jfi's letter to Lord G< rmaine. — Document 2 in Appendix. 


♦ luring which Fanning with characteristic cowardice had 
skulked away in fright, he caused the unfortunate insur- 
gent to be immediately executed. The wretch had not 
long before seduced the affianced sweetheart of poor 
Pew; aud having by the ruin of his mistress driven 
the lover to desperation, the Secretary dreaded his ven- 
geance. The wily and adroit villain did not entirely 
escape the vengeance of the people he had outraged. He 
had been twice dragged from his house by the infuriated 
colonists, and severely flogged, while his dwelling was 
sacked, and his costly furniture completely demolished. 
This rapacious man had now returned to the shores of 
his native island, and his brain, fertile in schemes of 
villany, was now doubtless contriving some potent mischief 
for the place of his birth. 1 

1 Edmund Fanning subsequently received a commission of colonel from 
Gov. Fanning, with permission to raise a regiment of provincial troops on 
Ixmg Island. He succeeded in enlisting tour hundred and sixty men, 
among whom were some of the most desperate wretches of an army that 
was eminent for the infamy and inhumanity of some of its troops. His 
regiment, styled the Associated Refugees, was for a long time stationed at 
Huntingdon ; but wherever it went, his soldiers made their name a synonym 
for terror and atrocity. Among their feats of inhumanity, a favorite prac- 
tice was. to obtain entrance, by craft or violence, to the bouse of some of 
the island farmers, whom they suspected of possessing a secret hoard of 
money or valuables. The proprietor was immediately seized and bound to 
a bed post, and tortured by holding a lighted candle to his fingers until the 
pain extracted the desired information, from himself or Ids family. The 
exploits of Secretary Fanning arc narrated at length in Caruther*' Life of 
David Caldwell, and Onderdonk's Revolutionary Incidents. 




Partisan "Warfare and Loyalist Leaders. 

Washington's attention had been often anxiously di- 
rected from the siege of Boston to the unsatisfactory 
condition of affairs on Long Island ; and, although averse 
to inflicting even merited suffering upon any, he had 
become aware thai it was now unavoidable, and that the 
stern necessities of war called for the expatriation or entire 
subjugation of its loyalist inhabitants. It was evident that 
the British army, so closely beleaguered in Boston, were 
about to abandon that city; and he already saw that JSTew 
York would be their next point of attack. Congress 
had repeatedly communicated its fears to Washington 
that plot3 were hatching on Long Island, for subverting 
the new government, and he had always replied by 
counselling humane and cautious treatment of its misled 

On the 10th of May, a report was read to the provincial 
Congress, by Mr. Morris, v hich indicated that Washington 
possessed information relating to affairs on Long Island, 
that had terminated his indecision. So alarming was the 
tenor of the communication which he desired to make to 
Congress, and so imperative the necessity of secrecy in 
regard to it, that he desired Congress to pledge each of its 
members by a special obligation to keep il private. Accord- 
ingly, on the same day. Gen. Woouhull the president, after 


himself taking a solemn oatli to keep secret all matters 
submitted to that body by Gen. Washington, called each 

member from bis seat and received a special obligation 
from him of the same purport. The General, on being 
informed of the compliance of Congress, at once communi- 
cated t(*it, by Messrs. Scott and Morris, documents which 
contained the details of a scheme for an insurrection of 
the loyalists of Kings and Queens counties, which had made 
alarming progress, and which threatened the most danger- 
ous consequences. A letter from Jonathan Sturges, of 
Fairfield, Conn., was read, which stated that it had been 
noticed for some time past that the tories of Connecticut 
had in considerable numbers left the state for Long Island ; 
and his letter enclosed a list of the names of the deserters, 
as they were termed. 1 It was evident, that a junction of 
the loyalists of Connecticut and Long Island with the 
Ministerial forces, was contemplated, for the purpose, as 
the committee declared, "of oppressing the friends of 
liberty in these colonies." 

Mr. Morris further informed Congress that several per- 
sons, believed to be British spies, had been observed 

engaged in such an examination of various points on the 
oft i- 

south shore of Long Island as rendered them objects of 
suspicion. These persons, who were strangers to the 
patriotic inhabitants, were undoubtedly engaged in fixing 
upon proper places for the landing of British troops. It 
was known, also, that the people of Hempstead kept up a 
constant communication with the ships of war; and from 
the details of the plot already discovered, it was believed 

l Journal of Provincial Congress, 11, 114. 


that a concert of action was thus maintained. A sloori 
load of lories had been captured on the Sound, who i 
admitted that they were on their way to Long Island; and 
Jonathan Sturges said that information enough had be< i 
obtained, from their admissions, to make it evident that 
"a horrid plot had been laid to destroy Hie people of thi. 
country, and that Long Island was appointed for the head- 
quarters," Matthew Adgate, chairman of the committee 
of Kings district, sent a letter, in which he says secret 
information had reached him, of "a plot as deep as hell to 
bring the country to ruin." 1 The bearer of the letter 
was, at the moment of its reading, awaiting the examina- 
tion of Congress. He had incurred the imminent danger 
of assassination, for the purpose of obtaining certain 
information of the projects of the disaffected, by procuring 
admission to their councils in the guise of a friend. 

Mr, Yanderbilt, the deputy from Kings county, informed 
the house that a resident of Queens county, named John 
Hendrickson, was in possession of information that would 
tend to unveil the mystery of the plot, and he was accord- 
ingly summoned before it on the next day. His long, 
rambling narrative teemed with incidents that suggested 
rather than proved the existence of a conspiracy. It is 
not without interest to us, in its quaint representation pi 
the tone of thought, and peculiarity of manners, prevail- 
ing at the time, and it details most clearly trie course and 
spirit of the sentiments of the Island inhabitants. 2 It- 

1 Journal of Provincial Congress, ir, llf>. 

a "Gen. Greene communicated to Congress the information that the fcoriea 
of Lontr Island were arming, nearly five hundred stands of arms having 
passed his camp within a fewdays, mostly in the hands of people who wen- 
known to bo unfriendly." 


would be deemed at this day, however, utterly worthless 
as evidence of treasonable action. Our old acquaintance, 

Richard Hewlett, of course figures in the narrative as a 
principal actor. 1 

At the close of his long examination, after being sworn 
to preserve a strict secrecy regarding the subject of his 
narrative, Hendrickson was dismissed, having been assured 
by President Gen. Wbodhull that his name would he con- 
cealed. The deposition of another person, a resident of 
Albany county, was read, to show that the conspiracy ex- 
tended throughout the colony. The provincial Congress 
was thoroughly convinced of the existence of a formidable 
plot, and exhibited their alarm by the lengthy debates 
which ensued during the next three days. Gen. Wash- 
ington himself fully sympathized with the anxiety of its 
members, and addressed to them, on the third day suc- 
ceeding the examination, a request that they would com- 
municate their decision, as soon as it was formed, to Gen. 
Putnam, who was to act as commander-in-chief during 
his absence in Philadelphia. Gen. Putnam was also 
instructed to carry out their measures with the military 
force under his command. It is evident that Washington 
anticipated developments, that would require a large de- 
tachment of his armv to march against the lovMii^ts of 
Long Island. 2 The mystery of their projects was, how- 
ever, so well preserved, that little more than the fact of the 
existence of a plot was elicited, and nothing that would 
criminate its leaders. 

1 See the minutes of examinaiiori, Document 7. 

3 See Washington's instructions to Gen. Putnam regarding the arreBt of 
tories on Long Island, in Documents. 


^Notwithstanding the failure of Congress to pierce the 
veil of secrecy which covered the objects and persons of 
these conspirators, they had actually designed a plan of ope- 
rations, more formidable and dangerous than even the fears 
of Congress pictured. Men of the most reckless daring 
and desperate fortunes, had combined with citizens of the 
greatest wealth and most reputable character in the colony, 
for the accomplishment of a design that appalls us, con- 
templating at this day the possibility of its success. The 
plot undoubtedly originated with the energetic and un- 
scrupulous Cxov. Tryon, on board the Asia, and was to 
be developed and executed by the loyalists of Long Island. 
So adroit and secret had been his manceuvres, that he had 
surrounded Washington and Congress with an invisible 
line of pickets, which guarded every avenue of approach, 
and watched every motion. 

• From the middle of May to the 20th of June, 177G, 
vague rumors of evil that was brewing had agitated Con- 
gress; and Washington, whose fears were awakened for his 
country rather than for his own person, watched the disaf- 
fected districts of Long Island, through the sleepless eyes of 
a score of spies. It was known that some persons of royal- 
ist sentiments had left Ulster county about the first of May, 
and traveled cautiously through. AYestchester county to 
Y\ nitestone ferry, where they had crossed to Long Island, 
and had lodged at the tavern of the tory feirnonson, at 
Hempstead. These were some of the strangers whose 
appearance had excited the curiosity of John llendrickson. 
One of them, named Abraham Bull, had been declared to 
be a dangerous man ; and his companions were supposed 
•to be persons whose desperate character had induced their 


selection as accomplices. From Simonson's they proceeded 
to the house of the areh-tory, Oapt. Richard Hewlett, by 

whom they were entertained, and the next morning were 
carried on board of the enemy's ships of war. Nothing, 
however, had hitherto transpired regarding their mission, 
and the spies had failed to drag from its concealment the 
secret which was so rigidly guarded. 1 Meanwhile, the exi- 
gencies of the service called for the recruiting of the thinned 
ranks of the Continental army, and, on the first of June, a 
draft of three thousand men was ordered from the colony 
of New York. Of the seventeen hundred and seventy 
able-bodied men of Queens county who had been en- 
rolled, not more than one-third had yet appeared in 
arms, notwithstanding the vigilance of the militia officers. 
But the increasing activities of the commonwealth made 
the demands for reinforcements more and more inexor- 
able. ; and, as every citizen was compelled to stand his 
lot, the whigs determined that their tory neighbors 
should aid them in the dangerous business of fight- 
ing. The attempt to enforce the draft upon a population 
so averse to its object, spread the greatest dismay in both 
Kings and Queens counties. So many of the loyalists 
fled again to their secret holds, that the whigs were alarmed 
in their turn, lest the quota, drafted should be made up 
entirely from their own number. The most stringent 
orders were issued to compel the delinquents into the 
ranks. As numbers of the loyalists were flying to other 
colonies, the roads of the island were everywhere patrolled 
or guarded, and all stragglers were apprehended. Every 

Ml.jw close was the scrutiny maintained by one neighbor tipon the con- 
duct of another, is illustrated by the letter of denunciation of certain citizens 
of Jamaica, sent to the provincial Congress. See Document 7'..'. 


person engaged in official tosiness was famished with 
a pass 3 endorsed " Ojl the service of the United Coloniea ; ' 
and those who could not produce this were immediately 
arrested. The day iixed for the arrival of the Long Island 
quota, was at hand, and scarcely the first steps towards 
preparation had been taken. A stirring and earnest appeal 
was issued by Gen. John Morin Scott, the officer com- 
manding the contingent forces; but the 19th of Jum 
arrived, and the Queens county levies had not been raised. 
The roll of Capt. Peter i\ostrand : s company exhibit^] 
the absence of two hundred and fifty-three members, in 
Oyster Bay; and in two other companies, there were one 
hundred and thirty-three deserters. 1 To drag them from 
their hiding places in the swamps and thickets, was a task 
fraught with no small danger; for these hunted and despe- 
rate men were now driven almost to despair by their per- 
secutions, as they deemed the vigorous acts of the whigs," 
and could not be expected to submit patiently to consign- 
ment to this hated service while they had arms in their 

1 The minute details of the orders for arrests indicated how thoroughly 
the work of denunciation had been performed : 

Queens Co., June 10th, 177G. 
To Mr. Thomas Mitchell, Lt. : 

You are hereby required to march your company into Capt. Peter Nos- 
trand's district, and divide them into as man) parts as you may think proper, 
for the purpose of aiding and assisting Kim to bring forthwith (283) default 
i:i£ persons belonging to that company, or such of -them as you can find, and 
forthwith send or bring them to Samuel Nicholls, and tin re safely secure 
them until further orders. 

John Sands, Col. 

Capt. Daniel Nostrand received orders at the same time to march in'') 
Lt. Robt. Coles's district and apprehend sixty-three defaulters ; and Capt. 
Philip Valentine was directed to proceed with his company into Capt. Sea- 
man's district, and secure seventy delinquent militia-men, and simultane- 
ously, Lieut Robert Coles marched into the military district of Capt. D. 
Laton, for the purpose of arresting one hundred and sixteen others. 


hands. Rumors were current of several bodies of armed 
loyalists, who had determined to defend themselves from 
the operations of the levy, and had posted themselves in 
strong positions. The clemency of "Washington himself 
gave way, in view of the menacing position of affairs, and 
he now ordered a detachment to proceed against the dis- 
affected, who lie says, " had taken up arms on Long- 
Island, but we have not as yet been able to apprehend 
them, having concealed themselves in different Avoods and 

The commanding officer of ihe district was that Capt. 
Jolm Sands, now advanced to the rank of Colonel, whose 
zeal for convicting his tory neighbors we have already 
witnessed. His patriotic energy, still unabated, was now 
quickened by the excitement of hunting out of their 
hiding places the persons who had set at naught his 
authority ; and accordingly, on July 25th, he directed Lieut. 
Mitchell to march into Capt. Nostrand's district, and aid 
him in arresting deserters. 1 

Another expedition against the loyalists was organized 
at Jamaica, by that ardent partisan Captain Benjamin 
Lirdsall, and pushed on towards Hempstead. He was 
eager for the chase, and appeared before Congress to urge 
the detachment of five hundred troops to aid in the enter- 
prise, promising with this force to arrest all the recusants 
in a week. Some of the less belligerent of the whigs of 
Queens county had devised a scheme in which their patri- 
otism could be manifested by a very cheap expenditure oi' 
their own valor : and, in furtherance of it, Captain Birdsall 

Uune 5th, the provincial Congress ordered the arrest or summoning of 
thirty-eight persons, etc. 


was commissioned to propose that Congress should author- 
ize the quota for that county to he levied entirely upon the 
loyalists who were in hiding, and should send a regiment 
of five hundred strong to catch them. They generously 
devoted their tory neighbors to the service of fighting 
their country's battles, and requested Congress to hike 
the trouble of hunting down, and making soldiers of them. 
Several detachments of Continental and Militia troops 
were now closing in upon the well-hunted loyalists. A 
mild dragonnade was recommended, and in some places 
practiced after a moderate fashion ; and the proposition to 
arrest leading loyalists, and hold them as hostages, mak- 
ing their safety depend upon the conduct of their fellow 
citizens, was rejected in Congress by only a small major- 
ity. One of the detachments which marched against the 
defaulters in Hempstead was composed of the minute 
men of Jamaica, and accompanied by the narrator, Ste- 
phen Eider. It was known that a party of the tories was 
concealed in the swamps near the head of Demott's mill- 
pond. The miller was entirely in the interest of the loyal- 
ists, and kept a sharp look-out for the patrolling squads of 
militia, or the hunting parties of whigs, which so often 
beat up the woods and swamps in his neighborhood. On 
their approach, the tory miller hung out a white cloth as 
a signal for the deserters to retire to the huts which had 
been built on the little island in the swamp. It was sel- 
dom that their pursuers ventured into the recesses of 
these intricate and dangerous hiding places; contenting 
themselves with sending a volley or two through the 
bushes, to startle the enemy they could not fight. On 
this occasion, a party of nine loyalists were lying in two 


sedge boats, entirely hidden by the dense foliage of over- 
hanging flags. They had determined that they would not 
he taken alive, and had pledged themselves to shoot the 
first man daring enough to undertake it. Some of the 
number were residents of the neighborhood, but there 
were strangers in the company, who were doubtless 
engaged in the conspiracy then maturing. They had 
remained near the head of the pond during the day, but 
at night had slept in an adjacent house, and, aware of the 
near approach of the whigs, were endeavoring to escape. 
The pursuing party were confident of the proximity of 
their enemies, and for the purpose of discovering their 
hiding place, Stephen Rider climbed to the top of a tall 
oak overlooking the swamp. While reconnoitering its 
recesses, a ball whistled close to his ear, and at the same 
instant he saw by the smoke the hiding place from which 
it came. At the request of the bold whig, a loaded musket 
was handed up to him, and aiming for the spot from 
whence the smoke issued, he tired, and shot one of the 
party through the body, upon which the rest surrendered. 
The wounded tory was a young man scarcely eighteen 
years of age, named George Smith, The ball had 
entered just below his shoulder blade, as he was lean- 
ing over the side of the boat in the act of leaving it. 1 
Stephen Eider paid the heavy penalty of thirteen months 
imprisonment in the provost jail of iNew York, and a large 
fine in addition, when the British obtained possession of 
the island. 

'Notwithstanding the severity of his wound, the young man recovered, 
although the blood issued from the apertures in his back and breast at every 
breath. — Ondcrilonk?$ llecul>.(tlonnry Incidents. 


Other acts of resistance, and the appearance of a 
determination on the part of the loyalists to defend 
themselves, delayed the execution of the order for their 
arrest, whenever they assembled in considerable num- 
bers. Capt. Birdsall, however, continued his activity, and 
pressed his old neighbors with an ardor and pertinacity 
that must have earned for him their hearty detestation. 
His last expedition against the lories of Long Island oc- 
curred on the 27th of July, a month later than the period 
of our narrative. Promoted to the rank of Lieutenant 
Colonel, he had been ordered to take command of a detach- 
ment of recruits, and proceed to his old patrolling ground 
along the Kockaway beach, as far as Hempstead, where 
he was to place Lieut. Townshend upon the coast, for the 
purpose of discovering the approach of the enemy, in Ins 
attempts to land. All communication with the ships of 
war was to be prevented, and those who attempted it 
were to be placed in confinement. The moment the enemy 
showed signs of landing, expresses were to be sent imme- 
diately to Col. Sands's headquarters, at "Westbury, and all 
the cattle and stock to be driven off. Col. Birdsall had taken 
his new position but two days, when he received news of 
a body of armed tories who were encamped in a strong 
position, at the distance of three or four miles. The com* 
mander of one of the detachments near Hempstead, was 
Lieut. Col. Caary, of ISTew Haven. This officer sent a 
number of the inhabitants as prisoners to Gen. Greene's 
headquarters, on the 20th of June, with a descriptive list, 
the phraseology of which characterizes the writer as 
strongly as his comments do the loyalists. Some of these 
were captured at the skirmish in the swamp nearDemott's 


milipoud, and the others were taken as their ill fortune 
threw them into the Colonel's hands. 1 

Between two of the numerous, slender creeks which 
enter Hempstead hay, lay the rich neck of land called 
Fort jSTeck, belonging to the staunch loyalist, Judge 
Thomas Jones. One of these streams, called Massapequa 
creek, was bordered by an extensive swamp, whose dense 
foliage and tangled thickets, of catbriar and other under- 
growth, concealed many a snug fastness of dry ground. 
It was natural that a gentleman of such firm loyalty as 
Judge Jones, should be surrounded by a number of his 
partisans, as well for his own as for their protection. On the 
approach of their old enemy, Col. Ben Birdsall, they took 
to their old hiding places in the swamp, but not soon 
enough to escape his vigilance. Information reached him 
from Joshua Ketcham, a whig committee man, of Hunting- 
tan, that thirty or forty armed tories were encamped in 
the Massapequa swamp. Arrangements were at once 
entered into for a grand hunt, which was appointed for 

1 This schedule of names find characters possesses an interest for us at this 
day, that will warrant its insertion here: 

"Joseph Denton and John Hutehings, from Jamaica jail. John Cannon, 
he received powder, and absconded into the woods. Andrew Sollen, a 
disaffected person taken in the woods. Jacob Lambertson, found with his 
gun charged. Benj. Pettit, he was in the swamp in the fight, and had 
powder from the Asia man-of-war. Ezekiel Kainer, in the woods hid. 
Kiehard Smith, in the swamp battle, and had powder from the Asia. Jere- 
miah Bedel, a disaffected person. Daniel Smith, in the swamp battle. 
Elijah liainer, hid in the swamp. Joseph Bedle. lame, a disaffected person. 
Nathan Smith, received powder from the Asia, absconded in the woods and 
appears to know much of the scheme. Townsend Weeks, a dammed rascal 
and the greatest tory. William McConn, Thos. Fleet, Peter Wheeler, 
Samuel Townsheiul and John Fleet, declared they would sooner light for 
the king than the Congress, and totally deny the authority of that body. 
James Cogswell, a gun stealer, or informer from Newport. Henry Durland, 
Baid Washington was more concerned in the conspiracy than an) one. ' 


the succeeding Tuesday, four days subsequently. Tin 
town of Huntington was to send two hundred men, which 

joined to the same number from Birdsall's command, 
would enable him, he said, to drive the swamp, " and take 
prisoners the whole of these deserting armed tones." l Col. 
Birdsall was in high spirits at the prospect of success in 
his expedition, and expressed the utmost confidence that 
it would meet the approval of his commanding officer. 

"Whether unlooked for exigencies of the service, the 
imminence of the invasion by the British, or the jealousy 
of Col. Sands, prevented the accomplishment of his adven- 
ture, we are unable to learn ; but that it did not succeed in 
clearing the snug retreat of loyalists, w^e learn from the 
fact recited by Mr. Onclerdonk, that after the battle of 
Brooklyn, the hunted tories " came out of Massapequa 
swamp, and swinging their hats, huzzaed for King George." 

It is difficult at this day, when all the rancor of partisan 
strife has ceased, to refrain from hearty sympathy for the 
sturdy loyalists who endured such rigors for conscience 
sake. That must have been a principle having roots deep 
down in strong hearts, which could impel the abandonment 
of home and family to seek an abode in the dreary soli- 
tude and misery of a morass. 

By the last of June, the measures of the conspirators 
had matured so far that they began to press them to a 
fulfilment. In the plot were now engaged many of the 
most respectable men of the island, who had combined 
with others of desperate character and low fortune, to 
accomplish a design whieh only such could ever have 

Bon Birdsall'e letter.— Journal Provincial Congress, u, 180. 



deemed possible. "David Mathews, the mayor of New 
York, resided for a portion of the year at his country-seat 

iu Flatbush; and although, by his great adroitness and 
caution, he managed to avoid such complicity with the 
plot as could be proven, he was undoubtedly the lieu- 
tenant of the chief conspirator, Gov. Tryon. Mathews 
returned to the city immediately after its occupation by 
the British, and remained in high favor during the war. 
Near him, in the village of Flatbush, resided William 
Axtel, a loyalist gentleman of wealth and influence, after- 
wards Colonel of the British provincial militia. Dr. 
Samuel Martin, of Hempstead, and Dr. Charles Ardeu, of 
Jamaica, like most of the gentlemen of education and 
high social position, were attached to the crown, and had 
become deeply engaged in the plot. Capt. Archibald 
Hamilton, of Flushing, a proud gentleman of considerable 
estate, who looked upon the whig committee as a vulgar 
herd of mechanics and tradesmen, was, in common with 
almost all the crown officers of Long Island, anions; the 

One of the persons whose name was associated with 
them claims more attention from us than a passing notice, 
not so much from the importance of his political, as of 
his social position. This was John Rapalye, of Brooklyn 
Ferry, whose great estate is now a part of the thickly 
populated portion of the city. The narrative of his suffer- 
ing and sacrifices for the royal cause will find a place in 
these pages hereafter. 

Of the ninety-eight persons who were ultimately charged 
with complicity in the plot, fifty-six were residents of Kings 
and Queens counties. At the head of the list stand- the 


Dame of Captain Richard Hewlett, wlio now felt that h< 
liad an opportunity for revenging the persecution of hU 
whig enemies, and who doubtless entered with hearty zeal 
into the project. 

Although rumors of the existence of some dangerous 
conspiracy had thickened eacli day, it was not until the 
20th of June that developments of its nature reached 
the ears of the revolutionary authorities. In the jail of 
the city were confined two soldiers of Washington's life 
guard, named Michael Lynch and Thomas Rickey, who 
had been arrested on a charge of passing bills, counterfeit- 
ing the Continental issues. Several residents of Queens 
county had been tried for manufacturing these fraudulent 
bills, and the persons in custody were only suspected of 
uttering them. They were, however, the vile instru- 
ments by which the designs of the more prudent and 
respectable conspirators were to be carried out. Em- 
boldened by the durance of these desperate men, one 
Collier, a waiter at one of the five taverns whose proprie- 
tors were implicated, divulged such important fragments 
of their secret, as caused unusual consternation and 
alarm among the few to whom they were communicated. 
The provincial Congress immediately appointed Mr. Mor- 
ris, Mr. Jay, and Mr. Livingston, a committee, to examine 
and try all persons who might be implicated in the con- 
spiracy. Futher developments gradually accumulated, 
until it was manifest that, while the designs of the con- 
spirators extended throughout the colony, its leaders and 
chief actors were residents of Long Island, and their first 
object was the possession of the person of \Vashington. 
On the accomplishment of this purpose, bodies of tories, 


:.: numerous points within the colony, were to seize the 

■ -ion of the universal confusion which would ensue, and 

to rise upon the whigs, paralyzed and panic struck by the 

great misfortune. The part to be performed by Hickey 

and Lynch, was the seizure of Gen. Washington, who wag 

to be betrayed by Mary Gibbons, a female said to be in 

his confidence. 1 

We cannot follow the steps of this curious investigation 
further than it relates to Long Island ; but full details of 
the affair are furnished the reader in a volume recenth 
published, entitled, Minutes of a Conspira^/ against the 
Liberties of America. 

Orders were at ohtee issued by Gen. Washington to 
Gen. Greene at Brooklyn, for the arrest o'\ several persons 
on Long Island; and explicit directions were given that 
the capture of Mayor Mathews, at Flatbush, should be 
effected precisely at one o'clock in the night, an instant 
search being made for treasonable correspondence before 
it could be destroyed. This acute and sagacious tory 
had, however, permitted no written evidence of his culpa- 
bility to remain. Fifty-six summonses were served upon 
leading loyalists who resided so far from the camp that an 
expedition for their capture could not have reached them 
before they would have had information of its object, and 
have sought safety in some of their secret fastnesses, or on 
board the vessels of war. In a day or two, information 
arrived that several of the conspirators, despairing of escape, 
were concealed in a forest near Jamaica. AVe learn from 
the testimony of one oi the witnesses, that the American 

. 'For uill account see American Archives, yi, 4th series; also J' 
fags 9/ the l',o. iii. la 1 Congress, 1. 



riflemen were so numerous along the hay as to render it very 
difficult to get on board the vessels of war, and these fugi- 
tives had therefore taken to the woods. Capt. Marinus 
Willett was at once ordered to take command of a troop 
of horse, and proceed to their rendezvous, taking vvvry 
precaution to secure the arrest of the whole party. On his 
arrival at the village, he obtained information that the 
conspirators, conceiving their situation to he thoroughly 
desperate, had determined to sell their lives at the dearest 
price to their adversaries. A party, numbering eighteen, 
had accordingly taken up a strong position in a wood, on 
the top of a lii 11 near the village, where they designed to 
make their defense from behind forest trees, in the manner 
practiced in savage warfare. The loyalists doubtless 
believed themselves secure from attack by Capt. Willett's 
troop, as it was impossible for cavalry to reach their posi- 
tion. Capt. Willett was a soldier not easily intimidated, 
or turned aside from an enterprise, by unforeseen difficul- 
ties. Obtaining a small reinforcement at Jamaica, he 
dismounted his troop, and at once proceeded to surround 
the eminence upon which the loyalists were posted. " Un- 
fortunately for the tory desperadoes, Capt. Marinus Willett 
was a most adroit and skilful Indian iighter, having; served 
with credit in the old French \var. In this sort of war- 
fore he was perfectly at home,'"' Using the forest trees as 
screens for his approach, he drew his lines closer and closer 
around them until within musket shot, when a brisk lire 
was opened upon the besieging party, which was returned 
by the latter as they continued to advance, until one oi 
the loyalists was killed, and several dangerously wounded. 
In this species of warfare, with the slightest preponderance 


,.T numbers, the advantages must be greatly in favor of the 
assailants; as their lire is directed towards a body of men 
confined within small compass, some of whose number 
are compelled to be constantly exposed to one or another 
portion of the ring of foes, while these, dispersed over a 
wide circuit, are but slightly exposed as they change cover. 
The position of the loyalists becoming at last untenable, 
and several of their number no longer capable of resistance, 
the remainder surrendered, and were brought prisoners to 
New York. Had the tories been headed by Capi Richard 
Hewlett, the former associate of Capi Willett in the old 
French war, the victory of the latter would not have been 
obtained without harder fighting. 1 

At the trial of Thomas Hickey and Lynch, the gunsmith, 
Gilbert Forbes, one of the accused, made a statement, on 
his examination, of the plan of the attack on Brooklyn and 
New York, which was to have ensued on the consummation 
of the plot. It is remarkable for its substantial identity with 
that actually adopted by Gen. Howe on the 27th of August, 
two months subsequently. A. discharged sergeant of the 
Royal Artillery, named Graham, employed as a spy, had 
accurately surveyed the Brooklyn works, of which he had 
drawn plans and concerted the whole scheme of attack. 
The result of Sergeant Graham's observations had been 
forwarded to Gov. Tryon, 2 and were doubtless submitted 
to Gen. Howe on his arrival. A witness, who had 
accompanied Absalom Bull to Simon son's tavern at 
nempstead, declared that he was informed that cannon 

l Min,utesofq Conspiracy, Philadelphia, 1805. 

3 American Archives, vi, 4th series, 1178, Forbes' testimony 


had been provided in several places on Long Island, and 
that three field-pieces and a mortar were concealed under 
Simonsoms barn floor. Orders were immediately issued 
for the arrest of Simonson, innkeeper in Hempstead, and 
the capture of all his guns and munitions of war; but the 
alarm had already readied that village, and both inn- 
keeper and field-pieces had disappeared. Hickey and 
Lynch were convicted of treason, principally on the evi- 
dence of a "jail bird who had played tory," and who had 
obtained their confidence. Hickey was accordingly hung, 
a few days subsequently. 

The greatest watchfulness was now observed by the 
adherents of Congress over all those loyalist officers who 
had distinguished themselves in the old French war, and 
particularly over the partisan leaders who had obtained any 
reputation in the irregular service employed against the 
Indians. One of the persons of this class, considered most 
dangerous, was Major Robert Rogers, The story of his 
adventures is still preserved in his own narrative, as well 
as by his association with Putnam, who had served as a lieu- 
tenant in his celebrated corps. These two noted partisans 
met once more in New York; Putnam at the head of a 
division of the American army, and Rogers under arrest 
as a tory. He was at the time doubtless engaged in enlist- 
ing the corps of refugees ; which he effected, among the 
loyalists of Long Island, soon after the battle of the 27th, 
having made his escape from the custody of the Ameri- 
cans. In the same letter to Congress in which he com- 
rmmicates these facts, "Washington says: "The plot has 
been traced up to Gov. Tryon, and Major Rogers appears 
to have been a principal agent between him and the per- 


MttKi concerned in it. The plot lias been communicated 
to some of the army, una part of my guard engaged in it. 
Thomas Ilickey, one of them, has been tried, and by the 
unanimous opinion of a court martial is sentenced to die, 
having enlisted himself, and engaged others. The enclosed 
copy of a resolve of the provincial Congress will show that 
some of the disaffected on Long Island have taken up arms. 
I have agreeably, to their request, sent a party after them, 
having concealed themselves in different woods and mo- 

The plot undoubtedly, had its inception on board of the 
Asia, was matured at Flatbush, the residence of Mayor 
Mathews, and relied for its principal sustainers and adhe- 
rents upon the loyalists of Long Island. The nightly 
return of Mathews to his residence, not more than four 
or five miles from the landing-place of boats from the 
Asia, and his daily return to the city, made him the fittest 
organ of communication between the Governor and the 
loyalists. 1 The conspiracy failed to accomplish anything, 
except to increase the rigors of the surveillance over the 
Long Island loyalists, who felt its influence for many 
mo n ths subs e qn ent ly . 

One of the personages who bore a prominent part in 
the scenes of partisan warfare on Long Island, deserves 
more than the incidental notice he has received from its 
historians. As Col. Birdsall's name will not again appear 
in this narrative of revolutionary affairs, and as his story 

l Mary Gibbons disappears from history immediately after fhe committee 
becoming acquainted with her claims to their notice, asked General W ash- 
ington to attend one of their sittings for the purpose of learning the teuor 

of the evidence relating to her. 


is fairly illustrative of the fortunes of many of his 
comrades, the order of events will be anticipated in its 

Immediately after the battle of the 27th of August the 
Long Island militia began to melt away, and it totally 
disappeared on the disastrous field of White Plains. Col. 
Birdsali was in consequence an officer without a com- 
mand ; for he was too seriously compromised by his parti- 
san zeal for a safe return to Long Island. In November, of 
the same year, he wrote a detailed narrative of his services 
and sufferings 1 in the cause of liberty. Col. Birdsali was 
often employed in affairs relating to Long Island during 
tbe war, and, from his intimate knowledge of its geography 
and people, was generally chosen as the flag officer, when- 
ever access to it was permitted by the British. On these 
occasions he was really performing the office of a spy, and 
his quick eye and sharp intelligence were fully employed 
in catching every detail of information that could be of 
use. At one time he was sent with money and sustenance 
for the. starving American prisoners at the "Wallabout, 
and in Flatbush. Attached to the subscription list, 
with the names of the donors to the fund for this pur- 
pose, is the signature of Benj. Birdsali, certifying to the 
delivery of the money to the prisoners. Col. Birdsall's 
acute attention to everything around him, and his queries 
addressed to the farmers of Brooklyn and Flatbush, had 
not escaped the notice of the British, and complaints 
were accordingly made to the commanding oilieer that 
the conditions of his admission to the island had been vio- 

1 Document o. 


late'd. On one of those occasions ho narrowly escaped 
falling a victim to the vindictiveness of his old enemies, 
the lories. 

In January, 1778, having been granted permission to visit 
some part of the island, the limits of which were strictly 
defined in his pass, his steps were doubtless dogged by 
his old neighbors, who had not forgiven him the close 
hunting they had endured from him in Massepequa 
swamp and Jamaica woods. They had to settle w r ith him 
a long account for shot-guns and rifles which he had so 
unceremoniously taken ; for fishing boats destroyed ; and 
for scores of fat cattle driven from their farms, to feed the 
American army; Having overstepped the limits specified 
in his pass he had forfeited its privileges, but he was still 
fortunate enough to be arrested by the authorities, 
instead of falling* into the hands of the refugee and tory 
bands which prowled about the island. On the charge of 
having broken his parole, he was taken to New York, and 
imprisoned in the deadly Provost for several months. 
Mr. Onderdonk says he was held as a hostage for one 
David Pace. During his imprisonment, Birdsall was 
subjected to all the cruellies which have invested that 
prison-house with so many dreadful memories. The 
stout partisan had little amenity to hope for in the sur- 
veillance of the cruel Cunningham, and tins wretch lost no 
■ opportunity of extinguishing even that hope. On one oc- 
casion Capt. Birdsall requested the use of pen, ink, and 
paper, for the purpose of acquainting his family with his 
situation. Refused, with the customary- expressions of 
insult, the bold spirit of the whig leader revolted 
against the indignity, and he returned a scornful retort. 


Tlic rage of the cowardly and vindictive keeper was too 
great to be expended in the vile language which he poured 
out, and he accompanied this with a thrust of his sword, 
intended to murder his unarmed prisoner. Birdsall had 
the good fortune to escape with a severe wound in the 
shoulder, "from which the blood flowed freely." The 
malice of Cunningham was still unsatisfied, and his method 
of gratifying it was more disgraceful than this assault. He 
thrust Birdsall into a filthy cell, without permitting the least 
assistance to be offered him, or any companion who could 
alleviate his misery. iNothing but the indomitable spirit of 
the ma n, joined to the vigor of his constitution, hardened 
in the privations of partisan warfare, enabled him to survive 
the terrible infliction of wounds, starvation, and filth. With 
the aid of strips from his linen shirt, he contrived to 
dress his wounds; and for " several months endured, in 
solitude and misery, every indignity which the malice of 
the provost marshal urged him to inflict upon a rebel" 

Gen. Washington, when made acquainted with his 
situation, took measures to have his wife and children 
conveyed from Long Island to Dover, in Dutchess county, 
where they remained until peace was proclaimed. During 
his incarceration. Col. Birdsall, who had only held his 
rank in the Long Island militia, was promoted to the 
same grade in the Continental service, and, soon after, 
arrangements were made for his exchange. Mr. Thomp- 
son's account differs, in some material respects, from that 
here given on good authority. As it is possibly a true 
narration of another captivity 1 to which the adventurous 

1 lliohipsoiCs History of Lofty. I* J <ind, 


r|.irit of the partisan officer subjected him, it is here sub- 
joined : " Soon after the evacuation of New York by the 
Americans, a circumstance occurred which exhibited, in bold 
relief, the intrepidity and patriotism of Capt. Birdsall, An 
American vessel, laden with Hour for the army, had been 
captured by the British in the Sound; and Capt. Birdsall 
believing she might be retaken, offered, if the undertaking 
were approved by his superior officer, to superintend the 
enterprise in person. The proposal met the approbation 
of the commanding officer, and the captain, with a few 
select men, made the experiment, and succeeded in send- 
ing the vessel to her original destination. But it so 
happened that he and one of his men were taken prisoners 
by the enemy." 

There is much more dramatic interest in Mr. Thomp- 
son's story of Birdsall's capture; but two or three well 
authenticated events in his life can hardly be reconciled 
with the occurrence of it at the period mentioned. Mr. 
Thompson says it was soon after the retreat from lew 
York; but, on November 28th, 1776, Col. Birdsall wrote 
a letter from Xew Haven, stating one of his grievances to 
be his having no employment in the army. 

Mr. Onderdonk, in his volume entitled Queens County in 
(he Olden Time, under date of 1778, says that Birdsall was 
taken on the 6th of January of that year, while under a flag 
of truce on Long Island, for the purpose of bringing off two 
families. In 1782, Col. Birdsall made several visits to 
the Island, crossing from Stamford to the British camp at. 
Lloyd's Xeck. From the commanding officer, Col. Upham, 
he received permission to proceed to South Oyster Bay, 
with the proviso that he should return within ten days, 


and be accompanied everywhere by a loyalist named Jolm 
Hewlett. The British had learned io distrust Birdsall'a 

eyes and tongue, and they placed the restraint of a torv 
companion upon him, who must keep the spy himself 
under espionage. On his return, Birdsall was permitted 
to take with him his two sons, and some of his property. 
It is these minute narrations which convey to us the 
actual condition of the British rule, and serve to paint 
for us an interesting picture of the manner and spirit of 
the times. From, them we learn that a more kindly and 
humane spirit than we are prone to believe, must have 
often controlled the British officers; for the indulgences 
shown to so fierce a partisan as Benj. Birdsall, indicate 
a gentler rule than civil war usually produces. 

Col. Birdsall wrote to Gen. Clinton a brief narration 
of his visit, which exhibits the fact that his loyalist com- 
panion, John Hewlett, had not taken him on his route blind- 
folded. "I effected a four weeks' disagreeable journey, 
and was sixteen days on the island, during seven of which 
I was in [the British] camp on Lloyd's Xeck. The fare in 
the camp is hard, and it is the wickedest place I ever met 
with. There was no restraint. I noticed every thins:. The 
larger farmers and traders do well, but all others are 
worn out. There were thirty wood vessels in Huntington 
harbor, convoyed by three small privateers, called the 
Lloyd Xeck fleet. A ton of hay cost the king ,£30." 1 

One of the residents of Kings county, named John 
Iiapalye, much esteemed for his services as a public oili- 
cer and citizen, had fallen under the ban of the wLiir 

1 Ondtnk'/ik's Queens Count'/ in Olden Time. 


committee at an early period of the contest. A consci- 
entious royalist, his professions of political faith, notwith- 
standing the moderation of their expression, had obliterated 
all memory of his excellences as a citizen ; and he was 
accordingly denounced by the revolutionary tribunal as a 
tory, and a probable conspirator. One of the witnesses at 
the recent trial had spoken of the use intended to be made 
by the conspirators of John Rapalye's periagna; and 
another had stated that the British were to march by 
Eapalye's mill, after lending at New Utrecht; but not a 
word of testimony criminated the man, whose life was 
entirely blameless, except for a frank expression of his 
honest preference for the olcL government. All the terri- 
tory in the city of Brooklyn which is enclosed between 
Fulton and Sands streets, the East River and the Xavy 
yard, comprising nearly two hundred acres, was the pro- 
perty of John Bapalye. Tie was the deputy of Leffert 
Lefterts, the town clerk of Brooklyn, and performed the 
active duties of the office. Denounced to the committee of 
safety of the provincial Congress, he was arrested, or 
surrendered himself into custody. Perhaps it was worse 
fortune for John Rapalye that nothing could be alleged 
against him. His excellent reputation, and fearless charac- 
ter, marked his example too strongly, and he was accord- 
ingly driven into exile, taking up his residence for the 
time in Xew Jersey. 

During the succeeding August, this loyalist exile was 
found in possession of a flock of sheep, which it was 
believed were intended for Gen. Howe's army, then 
encamped on Staten Island. His associate escaped, with 
a number of fat wethers, to the British hues, leaving 


Bapalye to bear the brant of whig indignation. Si;'. 
was the extreme moderation of the provincial Congress i 

the exercise of its authority, that even now all that was 

required of the recnsant royalist was that he shonld 
the oath of submission, and live at peace. But lc 
with John Rapalye was not a habit to be put on and otf 

so carelessly. Having sturdily refused to make any com- 
promise of his political principles, Rapalye was sent under 
guard to Connecticut, where a sterner republican rule 
afforded fewer indulgences than in the colony of Xew York; 
and, accordingly, on his arrival at Norwich he was thrust 
into the ( >mmon jail. 1 The thrifty republicans of iKew 
England, however, no: unwilling that their prisoner should 
relieve the State of his su] ~ >rt, granted him leave of ab- 
sence, on his parole to return within six weeks : and during 
that time he was bound by the same obligation to do or 
say nothing again st the republic, nor to give intolIL 
or adviee concerning its ifE irs. The council also passed a 
resolution requesting the furloughed prisoner to furnish 
five deknues whom it named, and other persons uot 
specified, with money, at his own risk of repayment. 
In consideration of this privilege, he was permitted to 
remove such members of his family as he chose fi 
Brooklyn to Xorwich. 

A person of some note on Long Island, at this ti: 
prisoner in Norwich jail, was named as one of the benefi- 
ciaries of Rapalye's loan. This was Judg- Thomas Jones, 

"Four months after, we find it was i rented to tl 

council': I it that 'J hn Ra . lye w ;i < lying- in jail, destitute of 

clothing and nee *saries of suj desi : turn to bis i 

Long Island to i m them." 


of Kurt Neck, a gentleman of weal 111 and refinement 
who had filled the high station of justice of the supreme 
court of the colony of JSew York, after the death of Judge 
Horseteanden, then residing at Flathush. His high social 
and political position gave too much importance to his 
royalist sentiments, to allow their influence upon the 
population of Queens county to be overlooked. He had 
accordingly been arrested, and with many of the highest 
reputation for intelligence, wealth, and purity of moral cha- 
racter, had been immured in the county jail. He was now 
as destitute as John Rapalye himself; and permission was 
therefore granted the latter to procure clothing and suste- 
nance for his fellow-prisoner. Evidences of Rapalye's 
faithful performance of his obligations were some time in 
the following December exhibited, in a draft for five 
hundred pounds, drawn by John Eapalye, and cashed in 
JSorwich, the proceeds of which were distributed among his 
royalist friends in prison. This letter of credit performed 
a similar errand of mercy, being sent on to New York, 
where its acceptor paid its amount, to relieve the sufferings 
of the American prisoners then in confinement. In com- 
mon with other exiled tories, John Rapalye was permitted 
to return home some months after the occupation of Long 
Island by theP>ritish, having been exchanged for such whig 
non-combatants as were held in durance by the enemy. 

During the long period which elapsed while the British 
held possession of the Island, he exhibited such traits of 
humanity as entitle him to the highest consideration. 
Gen. Jeremiah Johnson says of him in his characteristic- 
ally emphatic maimer: "John Rapalye was an honest 
man, and one of the few who conscientiously adhered to 


the crown. He was very humane to his whig neighbor-:, 
and to the prisoners on the ships, and did all lie could to 
relieve their wants. Had he remained on the island after 
the evacuation by the British, lie would not have lost his 
estate, as the legislature would have permitted him to 
retain it, on account of his humanity, and the kindness 
with which he treated the whigs after his return from 
exile, instead of revenging his own wrongs. This Christ- 
ian gentleman again went into exile in 1783, and died in 
Kova Scotia." 1 

The proper disposition to be made of the loyalists of Long 
Island, became at length a subject not only of alarm but of 
great embarrassment to the Congress of New York. Most 
of the suspected had been imprisoned or banished, and the 
jails of the colonies were crowded with their leaders; yet 
the loyalty of the remainino; inhabitants of the Island was 
still perverse and threatening. Great alarm was also felt- 
by the provincial Congress, at the growing vindictiveness 
exhibited by the friends of those incarcerated and exiled, 
The distress of these persons, and of their families, aroused 
such a clamor that it portended a future harvest of revenge. 
Gouvenieur Morris was therefore directed to communi- 
cate to Gen. Washington the particulars of the dilemma in 
which Congress found itself placed; but the great events 
then impending, and the more imminent dangers which 
threatened the commonwealth, crowded all minor affairs 
from attention. 

To the chagrin of the more ardent whigs, it was now 
apparent, that while all the towns of Kings county, except 

l Manuscrijpt Recollections of the Revolution. 


Flatlauds, assented to the demands of the provincial Con- 
gress, and elected delegatus thereto, yet there still lingered, 
own in the minds of the very persons so chosen, either 
a chilling indifference or a strong aversion to the great 
objects contemplated by the revolutionists. The deputies 
from Kings county, in 1775, were Richard Stilhvell, Theo- 
doras Polhemus, John Lefferts, Keolas Cowenhovcn, Jo- 
hannes E. Lott, John Yanderbilt, Henry Williams, and 
Jeremiah Eemsen. Three of these gentlemen were not 
elected to the Congress of 1776; Messrs. Leflert Lefferts, 
Rutgert Yan Brunt, and Jeremiah Yanderbilt, being 
chosen in their places. 

As early as February 18th, 177(3, the provincial Con- 
gress passed a resolution requesting the members from 
Kings county, who had been exceedingly irregular in 
their attendance upon its sittings, to appear in their 
place and resume their seats. Four of the eight delegates 
did accordingly participate in the labors and deliberations 
of that body, for a few sittings; but on the 10th of April, 
another election was held, at which, by a resolution adopted 
at the several town meetings, the eight delegates were 
empowered to depute any one of their number to tipped? in 
Congress, and act for the whole. While every member of 
that body from other counties of the colony exhibited the 
greatest zeal in the progress of revolutionary measures, 
there is scarcely a single project or motion on record, 
orio-inatin^; with the members from E~ings county. It is 
not derogating from the worth or earnestness of these 
gentlemen to say that they undoubtedly reflected the 
exact sentiments of the great mass of their constituents; 
that their discernment taught them that the rule of Con- 


gross could not long be maintained over the Island, and 
that after its abandonment by the Americans, the republi- 
can loaders must feel the wrath of the reinstated royal 

The new provincial Congress of New York met May 
14th ; but, notwithstanding the proximity of the city where 
it was in session, and the easy representation by proxy, 
the journals show that during the next one hundred and 
thirty-six sessions, Kings county was not represented in 
more than five, by even one delegate. On the 14th of 
August, three months subsequently to his election, Mr. 
rolhemus appeared in his place, and declared that Kings 
county having elected no delegates since May last, the 
county committee had directed him to attend as a mem- 
ber, pursuant to an election of that date. Congress 
indulged the gentle patriotism of the county, by permit- 
ting Mr. Polhemus to represent it in their body, in every- 
thing except in matters relating to government. It will 
thus be seen that everywhere on Long Island, except in 
Suffolk county, either the most ardent loyalty to the 
crown, or the most languid attachment to revolutionary 
doctrines, still prevailed. 

Several of the eleven persons elected to serve in the 
provincial Congress as delegates from Kings county, ren- 
dered eminent secret services to the Continental govern- 
ment, during the long period of its occupation by British 
soldiers. Of these, none contributed more essential aid 
to the revolutionary cause than Leffert Leilerts, of Bed- 
ford. Possessed of wealth, and a cultivated mind, it 
would naturally have been expected of him to rank himself 
with the supporters of the royal government: yet, while he 


acted during the British rule as an agent for the military 

authorities, ii is evident that it was in the interest of his 
old neighbors, and with the design of protecting them 
from extortion and loss of property. When forced con- 
tributions of supplies, or a levy of forage, or of wagons and 
teams, were made by the Britisli officers in command in 
Brooklyn, Mr. Lefferts was usually appointed to estimate 
the value of the subsidy; and the amount certified by him 
was paid to the contributors. The secret agents of Con- 
gress, who found access to Brooklyn through the enemy's 
lines, obtained large sums from Mr.-Lefterts in aid of the 
revolution, for evidence of which he had often not even 
their individual receipt. The possession of such a docu- 
ment at that period was much better calculated to be pro- 
ductive of danger than of profit. 

More than one of the delegates from Kin^s held com- 
mands in the militia, and were in service on Long Bland 
until the retreat of the American army. Rutgert Van 
Brunt was Colonel, Nicholas Cowenhoveu Lieutenant 
Colonel, and John Vanderbilt Major, of the Kings county 
militia. Jeremiah Vanderbilt, another delegate, was Cap- 
tain of the Flatlauds company; and the secretary of the 
county committee of safety, Abram Van Ranst, was Lieu- 
tenant in the Bush wick company. It is true that service 
in the militia did not in all cases indicate revolutionary 
fervor; as the enrolment was coercive, and these gentle- 
men, as well as all other citizens, had but to choose between 
performing duty in the ranks, or holding commands. Col. 
Nicholas Cowenhoveu narrowly escaped heiij^ executed 
as a traitor and spy by Washington, a R-w weeks subs - 
quently ; and only by the most adroit trimming was he ena- 


bled to avoid embroilment with one party or tlic other dur- 
ing the whole period of the war. We arc in possession of a 

most lachrymose and penitential letter written by him to 
Governor Clinton towards the close of the war, when it 
became evident that the revolution would triumph. His 
adroitness, time serving, and subserviency, received its 
reward; for he throve in various functions during the 
British occupation; made his peace with his victorious 
countrymen, after the evacuation; profited by the 
necessities of his fellow citizens, when they came before 
him as a commissioner to settle their claims for damages 
suffered during the early days of the revolution; and died, 
full of honors, a magistrate of the county court. 

The last' act performed by the people of Kings county, 
which recognized the existence of a revolutionary govern- 
ment, until the evacuation of the Island by the British, more 
than seven years after, was the election of delegates to the 
provincial Congress, on the 19th of August; while twenty- 
three thousand of the enemy's troops were forming on the 
shore of Staten Island for embarkation in boats, to cross the 
hay, and land upon Long Island. Three days subsequently, 
the towns of Xew Utrecht and Gravesend were swarming 
with the invader's forces; and the imminence of the danger 
tended neither to add vigor to the patriotism of the despair- 
ing whigs, nor to weaken the loyalty of the exultant torics. 

The directions of Congress to the several towns, to instruct 
their delegates to form a new State Government, in accord- 
ance with the recent Declaration of Independence, were 
disregarded; and the election of deputies was therefore 
declared void, and the farce of representation in the pro- 
vincial Congress by the people of Kings county, contrary 


-,;. their cteetae, was at an end. There were not wanting, 
however, those who were revolutionists from principle, 
and who joined so heartily in measures which forwarded 
the designs of Congress that subsequent accommodation 
with the British became impossible. 

Ahram Van Ransi, clerk of the county conventions that 
met io appoint delegates to Congress, was an ardent whig, 
and suffered in person and property for his patriotism. 
He was the proprietor of one of the pleasant farms of rich 
land which were allotted to the original colonists, near 
the Busbwick church. His warm Dutch farm-house was 
occupied during the revolution as the headquarters of Col. 
MePhcrson, the commander of a band of refugees, who 
were termed the corps of guides and spies. A company 
of more abandoned wretches, it is probable, was not cre- 
ated by the disorders of a period so prolific of inhuman 
and bloodthirsty men. 1 Captain Van Eanst could hardly 
have been present at the battle and siege of Brooklyn, as 
one of the Connecticut newspapers of the day narrates 
that he arrived at Harlaem on the 27th of August, with his 
family, in a boat. 2 Bushwick creek, then a navigable tide 

1 " After the revolution, -when the asperity with which the contest betAveen 
the whigs and tories had somewhat .".tinted, several of the officers of the corps 
of guides and spies returned to Long Island. One of these, named Vincent, 
who ventured back the year succeeding the war, was arrested at Albany in 
1784, on the charge of setting fire to some part of the city. He was tried 
for arson, convicted and hung, within so short an interval succeeding his 
arrest, that it would greatly shock the legal fraternity at this day by its un- 
seemly haste. There were others of the gang who deserved a like fate, 
but escaped." — Manuscript Journal of (Jen. Johnson. 

-On his arrival at the camp in Harlaem, Captain Van Ranst, reported thai 
information "had been received that fifteen hundred British troops had t?ur 
rounded the house of Simon Duryeaon the Bushwick lane (a mile north of thv 
present Evergreen Cemetery) and seized his horses, wagons and arms, mid 
that two companies of militia had been disarmed and perhaps taken pris »ni n*. 


stream, flowed almost io his door, and afforded him a 
read}' means of securing his flight. lie remained an 
exile from his home for seven years. 

Barent Johnson, Captain of the Brooklyn company, and 
afterward Major in the Continental service, also accompa- 
nied the American army in the long series of disastrous 
retreats which followed its abandonment of the Island, 
lie fought at Harlaem and White plains; and at last, 
broken in health, he made his accommodation with the 
British, and returned to his home in Brooklyn, only to 
linger a year or two, when he died. During this brief 
period, his house was the rendezvous of the secret agents 
of the Americans, who traversed the island constantly, 
both as spies and as collectors of the funds loaned to the 
State. These persons were often hidden in his house at 
the Wallabont, while it was the quarters of British officers 
and troops. The sums loaned to the revolutionary agents, 
by Major Johnson, and taken by them through the British 
lines in safety, amounted to more than five thousand 

A stout-hearted partisan of the whigs, named Adolph 
Waldron, at this period of our narrative, held the leas-:' 
of the Brookland ferry, at the foot of Fulton street, from 
the corporation of Xew York. He was also the landlord 
of the inn near the landing: which, during the revolution, 
became noted for the British sports of bull-baiting and 
prize-fighting, under the torv landlord, Charles Loosely. 
One of the first to feel the stir of revolutionary disquiet, 
Waldron had, in September 1775, called a meeting at his 
inn of those citizens who were desirous of forming a mili- 
tary organization. Waldron, as its patron, was in the 


r$<miar oy&er which governs such popular assemblies 
electee! chairman of the meeting j and as it is probable 
that it consisted largely of Ms old confreres, and patrons 
of his bar, lie was, with due formality, chosen Captain of 
the troop of horse which the assembly of citizens deter- 
mined should be organized. The stout innkeeper proved 
n good officer, and his troop of light horse was employed 
bv Gen. Sterling in guarding the coast of Xew Utrecht and 
Gravesend, until relieved by Col. Hand's regiment of rifle- 
men. His energetic patriotism, combined with his ambition 
for military honors, was not indulged by Captain Waldron 
without heavy cost; for he was compelled to abandon his 
ferry, his snug tavern, and even his troop horse, and remain 
in exile at Preakness in 'New Jersey during the war. 
Whether his narrow escape from the pursuing dragoons 
of Belaneey, in his flight across the Sound at Huntington, 
had cooled his zeal, or whether he found no opportunity of 
recovering his rank in a cavalry company, neither history 
nor tradition inform us. It is probable that the loud re- 
monstrances of the blatant Loosely, whose inn, kept in the 
Corporation house, was often the scene of high carousal 
by the British officers, with whom he doubtless ac- 
quired a sort of influence, operated greatly against any 
accommodation with the British authorities, if Waldruii 
desired to make it. 1 

Another cavalry company, entitled the Kings county 
troop, was organized at the village of Bedford. The com- 

J Capt. Waldron's skrewdness enabled him to reimburse some, portion of 
his losses on his return to Brooklyn in ITS:*. The winter was terribly 
severe, and tlae sufferings of the inhabitants of New York for want of fuel 
were dreadful. The wasteful extravagance of the British soldiers, had, in 


mauder, Lambert Suydam, deserves something more at 
our hands than the simple statement of bis rank, both on 
account of his merits, his eccentricities, and his adventures. 
He was a brave little Dutch farmer, whose compact frame, 
possessing dimensions more remarkable for breadth than 
for height, scarcely entitled him to fill the popular ideal of a 
gallant cavalry officer. He was of a Hery, resolute cha- 
racter, that permitted neither insult to his dignity, nor 
encroachment upon his rights ; and, altogether, was of such 
a petulant, high-spirited, and honorable disposition, as 
would have delighted the soul of Petrus Stuyvesant, or the 
imagination of Washington Irving. His troop swept the 
Clove road to Flatbush, and the Bedford road to Jamaica, 
patrolling them night and day to discover traces of the 
enemy's advance. It was the great pride of this stout 
little Dutch Captain, to mount his great farm horse, and 
place himself with all the despotic authority of military 
discipline at the head of his troopers, marshalled in line 
before his door, and then push out upon one of his daily 
excursions, to scour the king's highway for any of the 
king's emissaries who should intrude upon it. Capt, Suy- 
dam accompanied Gen. "Woodhull in his last foray on 
the fat beeves of the farmers of Flatlands and Jamaica, 
his troopers sweeping them up with the rigor if not with 
the spirit of the Scotch borderers, and crowding them up 

sown years, swept almost every tree from tlie tall forests of Brooklyn 
and Bostwiek. Fire wood had in consequence become so scarce and dear, 
that the price rose to sums almost* fabulous. Capt. Waldron seized Lis 
advantage as proprietor of the ferry, ami purchased all the wood brought 
there by the fanners, freighted his boats with the precious commodity, 
and sold it in the city at prices which he had the power to fix, almost 
without limit. — tUdtnmtcHpt Journal of Gen. Johnson. 


in great droves towards the Hempstead plains. It was 
among the last military orders of the noble President of 

the provincial Congress to detach Capt. Suydam from his 
guard at Jamaica on the day of the battle, and send him 
on to the east. The grand self-devotion of the General, 
would not permit any other officer to share the danger he 
knew to be so closely impending over himself. Capt. 
Suydam pushed on to unite his troop to. the command of 
Col. Livingston; but he was met near Hempstead by Col. 
Gilbert Potter, who commanded a regiment of Suffolk 
county militia, and who, under the influence of the panic 
that fell on all the troops of Congress at the terrible 
defeat on the 27th of August, ordered the Captain to leave 
the Island. 1 Here, struck with a seeming paralysis of 
reason, Capt. Suydam committed the error of permitting his 
troop to abandon their horses, and pass over the Sound to 
Westchester. The prominence which the Captain's ex- 
ploits had given him, permitted but little hope to be 
indulged by his friends that the British would allow him 
to return to his home, without some sharp reminder of 
his cattle-raiding offences: and, as Washington could neither 
mount a troop nor provide forage for the horses, had it 
been possible to obtain them, Capt. Suydam, and numbers 
of his company, were left with very narrow resources. 
They were represented to the Convention in October as 
being in a destitute condition, and that body aceord- 
imrlv voted them their pav as if in actual service. 

Whether Capt. Suydam, on account of his familiarity 
with the island, acted as a spv for Washington, or whether 

'For a report of his service on the island, see his letter, Document XII. 


under the influence of his adventurous spirit, he visited it 
for the gratification of meeting his family, is unknown ; 
but lie more than once performed the hazardous exploit 
of rowing across the Sound in the night, and stealing 
through the thickets and. swamps to his house in Bedford. 
Here the presence of a number of British -soldiers, who 
were quartered in the kitchen, rendered the greatest 
caution necessary; but the answer to a well known signal 
always assured him of danger or security, as he approached 
the low window by which he was admitted. On one occa- 
sion he was in imminent hazard of detection and arrest. 
He had approached the house with his usual caution, and 
was enjoying the warm greetings of his family with a zest 
enhanced by the dangers through which it had been 
purchased, when his presence was suspected by some 
person, who communicated the intelligence to the soldiers 
at the nearest guard-house. A squad of the enemy soon 
encompassed the house, and a guard was just entering the 
door, when the earnest entreaties of Mrs. Suydam over- 
came the tender hearted sergeant, and a pause ensued, while 
he gave such orders as left a gap in the enclosing lines. 
Of this the fugitive speedily availed himself, and in the 
darkness was soon beyond the reach of pursuit. The quick 
arraignment, the speedy trial, the ignominious death of a 
spy awaited him, and the morning would have beheld him 
suspended from one of the trees in front of his own house. 1 

'Tin; dangers he had undergone had not, however, tamed his valiant 
spirit to that degree which permitted him to suffer without resentment the 
indignities and outrages daily perpetrated by the British soldiers on his 
neighbors. One morning an unwonted clamor in his barnyard aroused the 
captain from his slumbers, and creeping to tin.' window of his bedroom, he 
became assured in a short time that the marauders were at some nefarious 


Alter nearly a year spent in exile, Capt. Suydam was 
permitted to return home, on taking the oath. of submission. 

work among liis cattle. The dim light of early morning was rendered still 
more obscure by a thin fog, which,, however, did not prevent him from 
observing unusual objects moving in the cattle-yard. The irate trooper 
was not deterred from the protection of his property by the hazard of his 
own delicate position as a prisoner on parole, for there was little disposition 
in his n solute soul to submit tamely to outrages upon his person or his g< lods. 
Reckless of the consequences, he seized his musket, already loaded with a 
heavy charge of buckshot, and fired it in the direction of the sounds which 
had attracted his attention. The groans, and screams of agony, which ensued, 
sufficiently indicated the effect of his shot ; and when, a few minutes sub- 
sequently, the morning light broke through the mist, it Avas discovered that 
three British soldiers, who had slaughtered one of the captain's cows, and 
were then engaged in removing the skin, had all been wounded by the 
shot. As soon as information of the occurrence reached the adjacent camp, 
a squad of soldiers was sent to carry away the wounded men, one of whom 
soon after died. No notice of the affair was ever taken by the British 
authorities, nor was Capt. Suydam ever molested. There was always 
underlying in the character of most of the British officers, when its influence 
was not deadened by the paralyzing effect of what they deemed duty to the 
king, a great liking for fair play, which kept them silent to severe measures 
taken by the whigs for the protection of their property. 




The Invasion. 

The sie^e of Boston Lad enclosed the British army, 
intended to reduce the rebellious colonies to submission, 

upon n narrow peninsula ; and, beyond the range of cannon- 
shot from the ships of war, no operations for that purpose 
were there possible. Lord Howe, and his "brother Gen. 
William Howe, trained in the best school of European 
warfare, were not long in perceiving that even a victory 
upon the distant coast-line of New England, would not be 
decisive of the contest. Indeed, the conquest of all tbe 
Eastern colonies, then insurgent, would onlv be cutting off 
a limb. It was necessary to strike at the vitals. The 
occupation of Yew York, and the command of the Hudson, 
would separate the spinal column of the confederacy, and 
paralyze, if it did not destroy, its vitality. The British 
army now occupied a territory entirely populated by its 
bitter enemies, while unquestionable intelligence from 
Xew York convinced the Howes that the citizens of 
that colony were as firmly devoted to the royal interests. 
Every inducement which policy would dictate, as well as 
the urgent invitations of these citizens, combined, there- 
fore, to fix them in their purpose to change their base of 
operations thither. The plan of the campaign, adopted by 
the Admiral and the General, exhibited at once military 
talent, of more than ordinary excellence, and resource- 


adequate to the work m hand. The undisguised loyalty of 
the inhabitants of Staten Island, and the exposure of almost 
its entire surface to the sweep of the guns of the British 
fleet, made it eminently fit for the rendezvous of the great 
force it was designed to assemble. It is difficult at this 
day to account for the removal, by Gen. Howe, of all 
the Boston garrison to Halifax, when the descent upon 
Long Island had been determined upon, and was so easy 
of accomplishment. It was made a subject of violent 
animadversion by the British writers that he should have 
compelled the heroic troops, who had so long endured the 
bombardment of the American artillery from the heights 
of Boxhury and Dorchester, with the confinement and 
exhaustion of a close investment in the crowded streets of 
Boston, to subject themselves to the enervating voyages 
in sailing; to and from Halifax. These needless sufferings 
they were compelled to undergo, instead of recruiting in 
the genial climate, and feasting upon the abundant re- 
sources, of Long Island. 1 It was said in the high circles 
of Grub street, and echoed on the floor of the House of 
Commons that " the. fields of that rich island were thronged 
with bounteous supplies of vegetables and fruits, so that t)\e 
army, encamped in tents, or hutted, after the fashion of the 
rebels, would have recruited soon enough to have entered 
upon the campaign early in the season/' 

But before the view of General Howe seems to have 
always risen the awful vision of Bunker Hill, and every 
military movement of his after life goes to prove that on 
that scene he could never close his startled eves. Ko prc- 

1 View of tfhe evidence relative to the conduct of tlie American war, Lon 
don, 1779. — Document 4-'3. 


misc of success could be so dazzling as to overcome \m 
decision never to risk a movement, in the presence of bis 
rebel foes, until every provision had been exhausted for 
making it secure, which his prudence anticipated, and his 
resources supplied. 

On the 11th of June, 1776, the fleet which had borne his 
troops from the harbor of Boston a few weeks previously, 
sailed from Halifax, renewed hopes, and recruited strength, 
arming the forces for battle even more than their vast sup- 
ply of munitions of war. The morning of the twenty-ninth 
of that month dawned upon the fleet, in sight of Sandy 
Hook; and*here it was joined by Gen. Howe in person, 
who had preceded the main bod}- of the fleet several days, 
during which he had remained on board his vessel, in 
consultation with Governor Try on. The gubernatorial 
functions of this gentleman, as we have seen, had, by the 
perversity of the American subjects of his vice-royalty, 
been confined to the cabin of the Asia man-of-war. 

From Gov. Tryon, Howe ascertained that the Ameri- 
cans had obtained information of his designs ; as their 
vigorous preparations for resistance, both in Xew York 
and on Lon^ Island, full v exhibited. From the testimony 
of spies, and loyal inhabitants of Brooklyn and Xew York, 
it was evident that in the interim of three months, since 
the evacuation of Boston, the Americans had not been 
idle. The sagacious comprehension of Washington had 
long divined the direction of the next blow of the enemy, 
and all his powers had been concentrated to shield the 
threatened point from its deadly force. The most alarm- 
ing apprehensions had been felt that the fleet would sail 
at once into the East River, and thus enable Gen. Howe to 


bivouac his army in another day upon Brooklyn heights. 
To guard against this imminent danger, every energy 
had been bent upon the obstruction of the two channels 
which communicated with the Bay. Chevauz-dc-Frisc, of 
sharpened timbers projecting from vessels firmly anchored, 
stretched across the one between Governor's Island and the 
Buttery, while sunken hulks between them added to the 
difficulties of the passage. Heavy batteries, of the largest 
guns, at either end of this obstruction, guarded it from the 
approach of the enemy's ships; while the other channel, 
between Governor's Island and the Brooklyn shore, in 
which also vessels had been sunk, w r as swept by the 
plunging fire of great guns on the heights of Brooklyn, 
and by the hulling shot from the water-batteries of Red 
hook and Governor's Island. It was felt by all that 
there remained scarcely a possibility that the passage 
could be forced, by vessels exposed to such a tornado of 
shot and shell as would be hurled upon them in the 

Happily for the Americans, this opinion concerning the 
impassable, nature of the obstructions was shared by the 
British commanders. It is a difficult problem for us to 
solve, however, why the attempt was not made; nor is it 
easy to comprehend the grounds of the apprehension 
entertained by the British, since the obstacles interposed 
appear to us too feeble for the detention of such a powerful 
fleet for a single hour. But, from the shores of Long Island, 
on the 29th of June, the vast fleet of the invaders was des- 
cried entering the lower harbor. There w T as no longer 
room for doubt regarding its destination; and, while a 
thousand hearts palpitated with quickened motion at the 


approaching peril, thrice the number, in the bosoms of tin 
Island inhabitants, throbbed with joy at the sight of tin- 
same object, which to them promised rescue from a galling 
usurpation. The fleet was not long "without indications of 
the hostile feelings with which it was regarded by the one 
party, or of the friendly sentiments of the other. 

An incident, which exhibited to Gen. Howe the fierce 
earnestness with which the Americans had entered upon 
the contest, occurred on the 29th of June, while the fleet 
was making the mouth of the harbor. An armed Ame- 
rican vessel was discovered near Cape May, and pursuit 
of her, by the tenders and boats, was at once ordered. 
The vessel proved to be the brig Nancy, armed with six 
three-pounders, and loaded with the spoils of Xew Provi- 
dence, gunpowder, firelocks, sugar and rum. The pre- 
sence of six men-of-war, with numbers of armed tenders, 
determined her commander in the resolution to beach his 
vessel, and save what he could of her cargo. Under cover 
of a heavy fog, the brig was run ashore; but, while much 
of the gunpowder remained on board, the fog lifted, and 
the fleet was observed at a short distance, with the men-of- 
war boats preparing to board her. A train was laid to the 
magazine; the mainsail was rolled on deck, with powder in 
its folds, and fired. The British seamen boarded their prize 
with three cheers, which had scarcelv announced their 
success to their comrades in the fleet, when the deck of 
the brig rose with a loud explosion, and the horril-le 
spectacle was exhibited of thirty or forty human beings 
torn and crushed to death in an instant. 

1 American Arclticts, i, fifth series, p. 1-1. 


On the fourth of July, as if to celebrate the great event 
which was then occurring in Philadelphia, a number of 
hardy Americans constructed a battery, mounting* at most 
no more than two or three twelve-pounders, at the Narrows, 

near Penyse's ferry-landing. During the day, they opened 
lire upon the Asia, which was sailing close to shore, in the 
rear of the fleet. As if stung by the audacity of this assault, 
the great ship wore heavily around, and sent a broadside o[ 
forty twenty-four pound shot upon the shore. One of the 
accounts of occurrences of the day, published in a Phila- 
delphia newspaper, says : " One of the balls lodged in the 
wall of Mr. .Bennett's house without penetrating it. The 
house of Denyse Denyse narrowly escaped demolition, 
from the storm of cannon shot which swept around it. 
One passed close to the kitchen, in which the family were 
assembled, another struck the barn at a short distance, 
and a third carried away a large portion of the garden 
fence, close to the back door of the house." The battery 
continued its discharges, until one of its shot hulled the 
Asia, killing, it is said, four men and~a boy. 1 Thus, the 
first resistance made to the British forces in the colony of 
Xew York, was on the fourth of July, from the ground on 
which Fort Hamilton is built, and while the Declaration 
of Independence was receiving the signatures of the fifty- 
six immortal representatives who framed it. 2 

Gen. Howe gave indications of an intention to attack the 
American lines as early as the 7th of July, immediately 

Reported by one Abram Van Dugan, tlTen a prisoner on board the Asia, 

2 "I had determined to disembark the army at Gravesend bay in Long 

Island, and with this intention, the fleet rnoveel up the bav on the 1-t 

instant in the evening, in order to land the troops at the break of da} tu-xt 

morning ; but being more particularly informed during the night c»i a strong 


after bis fteet had anchored. His letter to Lord Germaine, 
announcing lus arrival, furnishes such proofs of the con- 
stant transmission of intelligence to him by his spies, and 
of the uncertainty of his mind, that it will repay perusal. 
On the 1st of July, orders had been issued for the disem- 
barkation of the troops at Gravesend bay, early the next 
morning; but the arrival of some spies during the night, 
with a description of the strong American entrenchments, 
caused him to countermand the orders. 

The fleet assembled in the lower bay was that which 
had borne the besieged forces of Great Britain from Bos- 
ton to Halifax, and now contained nine thousand veteran 
soldiers ; who were, on the ninth of July, landed on the 
shore of Staten Island. The landing of the troops was 
effected by the aid of more than twenty of the large hay- 
boats, which had escaped Captain Benjamin Birdsall's 
raid. As soon as the fleet had anchored, these came out 
of the creeks and the little bays which intersected the 
Long Island shore, and w r ere of great service in supplying 
the British vessels with fresh provisions, and in transport- 
ing the troops to Staten Island. The strongest assurances 
were given to the Howes of the fervent lovaltv of the <rreat 
mass of the inhabitants of Long Island ; and this till now 
Eubdued attachment to the crown was relied upon as one 
of the chief auxiliaries that would aid to make success a 

post upon a ridge of craggy heights covered with wood that lay in the route 
ih-' army must have taken, only two miles distant from the enemy's work?. 

and seven from Gravesend I declined the undertaking." 

Gen. Home to Lord Gcrmainc. 
July 7th, 177'). 

See the entire letter in Document 8. 


In a few days another fleet, repulsed from the siege of 
Charleston, bore the remnant of the forces under Sir 
Henry Clinton and Sir Peter Parker into t\ie harbor. 
The shattered masts and the pierced hulls of Sir Peter's 
squadron, testitied to the fierce resistance they had encoun- 
tered from the guns of Fort Moultrie. Two ffty-gun 
ships, five frigates of twenty-eight, one of twenty-six, and 
two sloops of eight guns each } had expended, in two hours 
fighting, thirty-four thousand pounds of powder, and more 
than fifty tons of shot; by which they had killed and 
wounded of the Americans thirty-six men, having in. the 
same time lost one hundred and seventy men, and one 
of the twenty-eight gun frigates. It was under such dis- 
heartening influences that the Admiral brought his fleet, 
of nine vessels of war and thirty -five transports, carrying 
Sir Henry Clinton's force of three thousand men, into the 
harbor of Xew York- 1 

From this period, every day witnessed the arrival of 
reinforcements, gathered, by the order of the king of Great 
Britain, from every quarter of the globe. The fleet which 
had hovered off the coast of Florida, the vessels which 
had thronged the harbor of Jamaica, directed their course, 
as by some vast magnetic attraction, towards the low shores 
of Long Island. From the hills of Brooklyn, the anxious 
gazer could one day descry a fleet of tall ships from the 
Mediterranean, standing up the wide estuary of Xew York 
bay: and the morning of the next would dawn upon another, 
from the British channel, convoying a hundred transport 
ships to the same port On the twelfth of August arrived 

1 Moultrie's Memoirs American llcvolutiuu ; Draytoii's do. 


the last division of the great fleet of the invaders. Six 
men-of-war, and eighty two transport-ships, bearing seven 
thousand eight hundred Hessian mercenaries, and one 

thousand English Guards, who had been driven about upon 
the i'aee of the deep for thirteen weeks, entered the harbor 
on this day, and anchored below the ^Narrows. The com- 
mander of the foreign troops was General I>e Heister ; an 
old man, worn out with half a century of military service, 
but a personal friend of the landgrave of Hesse Cassel, at 
whose earnest entreaty he had consented to accept the 

Although nearly all the cattle had been swept from the 
rich farms of Staten Island a month before, by Gol. Heard, 
it still seemed like a paradise to the troops after'their terri- 
ble voyage. The light-armed Highlander, and the cum- 

'" 71 if passage had been very tedious, for calms, contrary winds, and cur- 
rents, drove the fleet in such adverse direction- as baffled every reckoning, 
though kept by the ablest artists. The old General De s Heister, who wan 
embarked onboard of a merchant ship, exhausted his whole stock of tobacco 
and patience together. He wrote a letter, couched in terms of grief, imj a- 
tiero i? and despair. ' I have been imposed upon and deceived,' said the ol i 
^ • ' Pan, 'fori washssured the voyage would not exceed six or seven weeks- 
Li in tfiw mare than fourteen sine.' 1 embarked, and full three months since 
1 U'ft England, yet 1 see no more prospect of landing, than I did a week 
after oiirsailing. I am an old man covered with wounds, and imbecilitated 
'■; ' : ■-. ■ ■ ■■'-. and it is impossible I should survive if the voyage con 

tit;-!- a much longer.'' 

Si] Ueorge Collier went on board the transport, to visit and comfort the 
■ »] I general ; and to do it more effectually than by words, he carried wit! 
him fcftvshinents, fresh provisions, etc., but. above all, plenty of tobacco 
which he learned was one principal cause of the veteran's dejection. '1 Ids. 
and an assdranee that the voyage would now soon terminate, raised the old 
Herman's spirits very effectually. Jle ordered his band of music to play- 
he called for old Flock, and swallowed large potations to the health of tin' 
king of England, the !andgrave,'and many other friends, and SirGeorge 1< •' 
him perfectly exhilarated and happy." — Naval Chronicle, 1814, artich . Dt ' n 
of some partirular St rvices of Sir <7. orrfe GoUii r in America, by George Rain* r. 
Dotitment 35. 


brotttify equipped. Uessian, overburdened with the weight 
of his own weapons, leaped joyously upon the shore, and 
looked forward to a brief campaign, which would fill their 
knapsacks with booty, and their stomachs with unac- 
customed luxuries. Twenty-seven thousand men 1 Landed 
from the transports, and bivouacked in sight of the doomed 
city, which they were rejoicing in the anticipation of sack- 
ing. Eleven thousand of these were Hessian and Wal- 
deckian troops. Tiie British army was received with the 
wildest demonstrations of joy by the inhabitants; and the 
deputations of loyalists from Long Island were not behind 
in expressions of their profound gratification at the pre- 
sence of the vast force, which incontestiblv guarantied the 
permanence of the royal government in America. 2 

Most of the troops were disembarked immediately on 
their arrival; the Hessians forming a separate camp on the 
shore of Kill Van Kull, where, with abundant supplies of 
fresh provisions, they soon recovered from the fatigues of 
their voyage. They were not permitted, however, to 
enjoy an undisturbed repose. The American riflemen 
thronged the opposite shore of iNew Jersey, 3 with eager 
curiosity to learn something of these foreign soldiers, of 
whose dreadful ferocity and barbarous warfare the wildest 
stories had been reported. Unfortunately for the simple 

'In KnigJiVs Pictorial History of England the number of English and 
foreign troops is said to be nearly thirty thousand. Document 41. 

Elkiug *avs, "General Howe had at this time thirty-five thousand active 
troops at Ins disposal." — Hist, of German, Auxiliaries in America. Docu- 
ment 40. 

9 Marshall^ Life of Washington. Quarto edition, n, 410. 

3 The Journal of a Hessian otheersay.s: " The Americans could be seen 
across the water, stretching out their long necks to see what sort ol )•• "';''-' 
we were." Document 40. 


and credulous Germans, curiosity did not long keep tin 
American sharpshooters idle; for an occasional puff of 
smoke from a clump of bushes far across the Kill, and the 
immediately succeeding fall of one of the Hessian sen- 
tinels on the shore, warned them that these curious 
spectators were active enemies. To the astonishment of 
the auxiliaries, they learned that even the broad strait be- 
tween them and their foe was not sufficient to protect their 
encampment; and it was only by sweeping the Jersey 
shore with cannon and grape-shot, that this was rendered 
safe. While the troops were recruiting. Gen. Howe waa 
engaged in forming his plan of the campaign, and in 
selecting and arranging his forces for the first blow, which 
he was determined should be overwhelming. 1 

The commanders of the fleet and army had been selected 
by the king himself; and his choice had been approved by 
statesmen thoroughly conversant with the great exigencies 
of the campaign, and with the talents of the persons so 
highly honored. 

The history of combined expeditions had hitherto been 
frsually one of misfortune, if not of criminality, as the jea- 
lousy, which seldom slumbered between the land and naval 
forces, exerted its malignant influence upon the respective 
commanders. But this danger, it was believed, and experi- 
ence proved, was effectually guarded against by the ap- 

'The loyalists who reached Howe's camp, were at this time formed into 
two companies, styled New York Provincials. " A negro belonging to one 
Strickle* at Gravesend was taken prisoner (as lie says) last Sunday at Coney 
Island (by the British). Yesterday lie made his escape, and Avas taken pri- 
soner by our rifle gtiartl. He reports eight hundred negroes collected on 
Staten Island, this day to he formed into regiments." — Gen. Greene to Wosk- 
ington, J i.ily 'list. 


pointment of Admiral Lord Richard Howe, and his "brother 
General William Howe. They had both given proof of 
their valor and skill, on the ocean and on the battle-field. 
Yet tlieir fraternal affection, and their common courage, 
were the only points of similarity in their characters. 

The elder brother Richard, Admiral and Viscount, was a 
grave, proud man, animated hy a noble ambition, that was 
modified by a humane and generous spirit. In his devotion 
to the king, lie held the rebellious Americans in profound 
abhorrence; yet his intercourse with them was character- 
ized by a forbearance and gentleness which had the seeming 
of inconsistency to those who did not justly estimate the 
mingled sentiments which animated a royalist, jealous of 
the honor of his king, and a nobleman, sensitive to appeals 
to his justice and his humanity. The proud reserve of his 
manner, towards those of an inferior rank, did not always 
extend to those with whom he was on terms of friendship. 
He had livedin the most cordial intimacy with Dr. Franklin ; 
and he had received a letter from him, on the 30th ult., con- 
taining the bitterest expression of sentiments hostile to the 
British government, and insulting to himself, with the 
mild remark: " My old friend expresses himself very 
warmly.* 7 At the interview with Col. Palfrey on board 
his flag-ship, he spoke of General "Washington with the 
highest respect; giving him, in conversation, his military 
title, although he could not, as his majesty's officer, 
address him by it in his communications. lie spoke of 
the revolted colonies as States; and referred to the resolu- 
tions of Congress which honored the memory of his 
brother, who had fallen eighteen years before at Ticon- 
deroga, with expressions of sentiments of the greatest 


regard for this testimony to the memory of a member of 
Lia family. On parting with the Colonel, he desired him 
io present his compliments to General Washington ; and 
when speaking of the brother who had fallen in defense 
of the colonists, whom his lordship had come to meet as 
an enemy, Col. Palfrey observed that he was so much 
aflected that tears came to his eyes. 1 

Such was the man who commanded the great armada 
which now made the harbor of ]S r ew York seem a forest of 
masts. Had he never appeared as an enemy of the re- 
public, his name would have been received by its citizens 
with tokens of honor and admiration, for the dignity, 
moderation, and humanity of his mind. As a generous 
enemy, a faithful subject of his king, and a Christian 
gentleman, let us do him honor. ' 

"Widely different, in many respects, was the character of 
his brother, the Chevalier as he was termed, who had 
acquired distinctions by his service on the battle-field, 
nearly equal to those which his Lordship had obtained upon 
the ocean. His reputation for experience in the art of war, 
and for ability as a soldier, was equal to that of any General 
in the British service. He had maintained the honor of 
the British flag on more than one battle field of America, 
during the French war of 175G. But while Admiral Howe 
was remarkable for sobriety and abstemiousness, the Gene- 
ral was noted for self-indulgence and sensuality. The 
former was haughty and reserved, even to his friend- ; 
the latter was familiar and affable, even to those whom In' 
held in contempt. The life of the Viscount was pure and 

1 Spark*'* Life of Wan/iinf/ton. 


honorable, while that of the General was largely spent in 
gaining and debauchery. The ambition of Admiral Howe 
kept him active and watchful ; that of his brother was sub- 
ject to intermissions, during which wantonness and sloth 
neutralized the efforts of his genius. 

He had acquired his high position of Commander-in-chief 
of the army in America, not entirely from his reputation 
for military ability, but also through the personal favor of 
the king, to whom his features bore such an extraordinary 
resemblance as to give color to the popular scandal of 
their common paternity. With the tactical talent of a 
skilful general, he combined the feeble results of a timid 
and unpraetieed soldier. His ambition spurred him to 
exercise an intellect capable of great military invention, 
and of splendid combinations ; but his sensuality lulled him 
into indolence, at the very moment when his schemes pro- 
mised to ripen into success. He prepared the plans of his 
campaigns with elaborate care, and shrewd foresight; but 
he lost his interest in their realization the instant their suc- 
cess appeared probable; and he abandoned their final 
execution with the most reckless unconcern at the very 
moment of their culmination, when exertion was most 
necessar}' to their accomplishment. He was accompanied 
on this occasion, it is charged, by his mistress, Mrs. Loring. 
the wife of a resident of Boston whose complaisance had 
been purchased with an office, the emoluments of which 
were rated at thirty thousand dollars per annum. 1 Tin- 
gaming table found Gen. Howe and his paramour in 

1 Vice of the Conduct of the War in America. Svo, London, 17 77. Dora 
merit 43. 


almost nightly attendance; and the latter was asserted, by 
the writers of letters from the camp, to have lost thiv,- 
hundred guineas at a single sitting. The foihles and the 
vices of the Commander did not, however, destroy the 
affection and esteem of his army; for his affability and 
kindness of manner won for him the first, while his ability 
and courage secured to him the other. 

Such were the men, who wielded the power of the 
armies of Great Britain, and her German auxiliaries, in 

I hiving thus minutely traced the steps by which the 
great invading force had been brought to our shores, and 
the measures by Which the revolutionary authorities had 
sought to stifle where they could not destroy the affection 
for royalty among the colonists of Long Island, it is time to 
notice the preparations of these authorities for the defense 
of their new Government. 

Suffolk county had early given evidence of its hearty 
zeal for the republican doctrines. Out of its whole popu- 
lation of freeholders and adult male inhabitants, number- 
ing two thousand eight hundred and thirty-four, between 
the ages of sixteen and sixty, only two hundred and thirty- 
six were reckoned as beins; of lovalist proclivities. The 
enrolled militia of the county exceeded two thousand; 
of whom three hundred and ninety-three officers and 
privates were in the ranks of Col. Smith's regiment, the 
best disciplined and armed on the island. It was the only 
one which could be considered in any form to have sur- 
vived the shock ol* the 27th of August; and only a small 
part, even of this body, ever did service after that fatal 
day. In Queens county, as we have seen, the whole force 


of the whigs which could be mustered under arms was 
insufficient to overawe their loyalist neighbors. Seven- 
teen hundred aud seventy able bodied men among her 
citizens were enrolled on the roster of her militia ; while 
only three hundred and seventy-nine were, by the most 
stringent measures, induced to appear in arms. 1 

In Kings county six companies of militia were organized, 
but with what numerical strength we have no means of 
learning. Prom many suggestive circumstances, however, 
the conviction is forced upon us that the ranks must have 
been very thin, and the companies scarcely more than 
skeleton organizations. Two companies of volunteer 
cavalry had been formed, as already narrated, which were 
frequently employed on patrol, and guard duty, in which 
they proved of some service. 

On the 27th of June, Col. Van Brunt, of 2s~ew Utrecht, 
had delivered fifty-eight men, under the command of Cap- 
tain Jaques Rapalye, to the provincial Congress of iNew 
York, as the quota of Kings county under the last draft. 

Earl}- in March, the regiment of Col. "Ward, numbering 
five hundred and nineteen men, was disrated, under the 
direction of Gen. Greene as engineer, in forming a line of 
defenses to protect the shore of the East River from ap- 
proach by land. On the thirteenth of that month, Lord 
Stirling issued orders that all the male inhabitants of 
Kings county, both white and black, should perform 

'This is the number, for whom Col. Sands received bounty money, 
amounting to £017 14-*. 8(7. The demand for that sum would not, however, 
ho deemed ai + his day conclusive evidence of the actual service of even that 
small number. For evidence of the vastly different spirit in which the 
requisition of Gov. Tryon to the inhabitants of the Island to appear in arms 
was received, see his letter, in appendix 2. 


fatigue doty on the entrenchments, one-half being !-•• 
quired to labor thereon each alternate day. The fortifi- 
cations, and works of defense, were now driven forward 
with the greatest celerity which the means of the Ameri- 
cans allowed, Royalist and whig toiled side by side; 
compelled, by the stringency of military rule, to appear 
with the implements they employed in the peaceful labors 
of agriculture. The lines which defended the peninsula, 
upon which the two villages of Brooklyn-church and 
Brooklyn-ferry were erected, were, however, more im- 
posing in appearance, than formidable for resistance. 

In consequence of the deep indenture of the land, by 
Gowanus cre^k and the mill-ponds connected with it on 
the south, and by Wallabout bay and Bemseirs mill-pond, 
then covering the site of City Park, on the north,— a water 
front of more than three miles was guarded by a line of 
entrenchments less than a mile and a half in extent. The 
low ground on the Wallabout was defended by a wide 
ditch, filled by the tide, the channel having been exca- 
vated from the head of Wallabout creek, near the junc- 
tion of 1 Raymond and Tillary streets, to the foot of the 
heights, hear Bolivar street. Its course followed the low 
ground between Raymond and Xavy streets, through 
which the water foiling on the adjacent hills was drained. 1 
The earth from the ditch was formed into a breastwork, 
fmised with sharp stakes, set firmly into the bank, cross- 
ing each other, and projecting forward at an angle which 
would bring their points to the level of the breast of the 
assailant. From the east end of the ditch, a breastwork, 

1 Manuscript Ttecollecfhoris of Gen. JoJinson. 


similarly defended, led up tlio face of the hill to Fort 
Putnam, on the site of Washington Park. The strong 
redoubt known by this name, was an earthwork, defended 
by a ditch, and a broad area of abatis in front, formed of 
the tall forest trees which, until that time, had covered 
the site. The woods had extended down the slope, as far 
as the present junction of Clinton and Flatbush avenues 
on the west, and almost to the Jamaica road on the south; 
but they were now felled, over many acres, with their 
tops pointing outwards, and presented a tangled mass of 
sharpened branches, interwoven with the brushwood, that 
rendered the passage of a body of troops nearly impossible. 

Fort Putnam mounted five heavy guns, and occupied a 
height extending south of I)e Kalb avenue, commanding 
the Wallabout bridge road, Fort Greene lane, and most 
of the low ground in front as far as Grand avenue. It 
was, however, unfortunately overlooked by an eminence, 
distant about six hundred yards to the south-east, near the 
crossing of Clinton and De Kalb avenues; and the import- 
ance of this superiority was not overlooked by the British. 
This hill was too far from the defensible line, to be occu- 
pied as an exterior redoubt, or to be included within the 
entrenchments. 1 

From Fort Putnam the earthworks extended, in a zig- 
zag line, across the high ground near Bond street and 
Fulton avenue, to Fort Greene, situated on the land of 
Johannes De Bevoise and Van Brunt, near the brow of the 
hill at the intersection of Kevins and Dean streets, and 

'It is probable also that its superior eminence was not discovered until 
the woods which intervened had been Felled for the line of abatis. 


nearly equidistant from Frceke's mill pond and For: 

Half way between Forts Greene and Putnam, on the 
land of John Jackson, near the crossing of De Bevoisi 
street and De Kalb avenue, a small redoubt was con- 
structed to defend a salient angle in the lines. The star- 
forts, Putnam and Greene, projected far enough beyond 
the lines to defend them, by sweeping the whole length 
of the ditch between with the fire of their guns. The 
trunks of the heavy native forest trees, which had been 
felled to form the abatis, had been split into stakes, 
which now faced the embankments of the redoubts, and 
the ditches, with fraise-work. Detachments of the militia, 
and the fatigue parties, were also employed in cutting alder 
saplings from the adjacent bogs, and in hauling them to the 
entrenchments, to be used for the same purpose. 1 

Although the pickets and stakes were furnished gratu- 
itously, in most cases, by the farmers of Brooklyn, on whose 
land the wood had grown, yet there were not wanting 
instances of the presentation of claims for remuneration 
after the peace; and these thrifty patriots were paid for 
sup). lying the means for defending their own homes. 
Congress had requested the Kings county committee of 
safety to supply Col. Ward with brush for fascines and 
wood, for pickets, and with other timber to be used in 
the works around Brooklyn; and for this material, there 

I Tho recent discovery in Brunswick of a minute and accurate map of tin' 
American lines, and of the position of the British forces, drawn by a 1I< ssiim 
officer, is very opportune for the elucidation of many points hitherto doubt- 
ful in the history of events connected with the defense of Brooklyn. '1 '••' 
original is in the possession of the writer; and the fac-similo, presented in 
this volume, will be found worthy of study. 


were some of its citizens mercenary enough to demand 
and receive compensation. 

South of Freeke's mill-pond, on a low sand hill over- 
looking the passage between Freeke's and Denton's mill 
ponds, — where the Porte road, after crossing the dam of the 
former to the west side of the pond, formed a curve of 
nearly half the circumference of the knoll, — a redoubt, 
mounting four guns, had been constructed to command 
the crossing. This hill, after the destruction of the 
redoubt by the British had rendered the site of the forti- 
fication doubtful, was known as Fort Boerum ; hut at this 
period it was called Fort Box, in honor, probably, of Major 
Box, the officer who commanded at that part of the lines. 1 

The fifth and last in the chain of redoubts was the earth- 
work called Fort Defiance, on Red Hook, the guns of which, 
as will be narrated, offered a stout resistance to the passage 
of the British frigate, Boebuck, during the progress of the 
battle. B mounted en barbette four eigkteen-pounders, and 
was expected to prove a formidable obstacle to the passage 
of the British fleet up the East Biver. 

Bed Hook had early been deemed an important point of 
resistance; and on the fifteenth of April, a regiment of 
troops had been sent from Xew York to construct a redoubt 
upon it. In the Journal of Samuel Shaw an account of 
this redoubt is contained, not devoid of interest to us : 

" June 11, 1776. I am now stationed at Bed Hook, about 
four miles from New York. It is an island 2 situated so as 
to command the entrance of the harbor entirely, where we 

'Mr. Lossing placed this fort too far south, at the junction of Hoyt ami 
42 The peninsula was an island at high water. 


have a fort with four eighteen-pounders to fire en barbette, 
that is over the top of the works, which is vastly better 
than firing through embrasures, as we can now bring all 
our guns to bear on the same object at once. The fort is 
named Fort Defiance. Should the enemy's fleet make an 
attempt, they will, I think, be annoyed by it exceedingly. 
It is thought to be one of the most important posts we have. 
There are two families here — Mr. Vandyke, and his son, 
good staunch whigs, and very clever folks— between whom 
and our people a very agreeable intercourse subsists. I rode 
out with the young man about a week ago to a place called 
Flushing, on Long Island, sixteen miles off, where, and in 
most of the country towns round about, the tories from the 
city have taken shelter. It is almost incredible how many of 
these vermin there are. Scarce a house we rode by, but Mr. 
Vandyke would say, ' There lives a rascally tory.' The 
clay before yesterday, a boat belonging to one of them was 
taken, coming from the Asia, on board of which ship she 
had been carrying provisions. There were a number of 
letters tied up in a bag with lead in it, in order to sink 
them in case of surprise, but this happened to be so quick 
as to prevent them from doing it. The contents of the 
letters from tories have not transpired, but the owner has 
absconded. It is to be wished that some method could be 
taken to break up their nest, as I am of opinion that should the 
enemy appear the major part of the tories would not hesi- 
tate a moment in declaring for them." 

Within the lines of the entrenchments, two other forti- 
fications had been constructed, to command important 
points. One of these was erected upon a conical hill, 
called ponkiesberg, which rose in such prominefft and 


well-defined outline from the nearly plane surface as to 
excite the qfuery if it was not the work of human hands. 
It occupied the western half of the block hounded by 
Atlantic, Pacific, Court, and Clinton streets; and its ele- 
vation above the present grade was from sixty to eighty 
foot 1 The approach of the enemy was to be announced 
to Washington and the troops in 3ftew York by the firing 
of the guns from the top of Cobble hill, as the eminence 
wns called at that day. 2 

The summit of this striking; eminence was crowned with 
a redoubt mounting three guns, that commanded the space 
between it and Fort Box, and the Red Hook lane which 
wound around its base. This fortification was intended 
to serve as a portion of an interior line of defense, should 
the enemy succeed in landing at Red Hook, or in crossing 
Gowanus creek. . : 

.Fort Stirling the largest fortification built on Long; 
Island, was erected upon the heights overlooking the Fast 
River; its guns sweeping the channel between Governor's 
Island and Brooklyn, as well as the whole width of the 
river. It was star-shaped, and covered an area of two 
acres, near the junction of Pierrepont and Hicks streets. 
Remains of a fortification, supposed to occupy its site, were 
visible within the memory of many persons now living. 
Eight heavy guns were mounted upon its breastworks, 

1 During the war of 1812. another redoubt was erected upon this "hill, and 
called Fort Swift ; but at the period of the revolution it was known as Cork- 
screw fort and Cobble hill. A circular road led up to its summit, from 
which was visible the whole extent of the 1 line of defenses, the wooded hills 
from Governor's Island to the Bedford road, with the val lev and the salt 
meadow which lay between. 

'General orders July 18th, — -.American Arclike*, 1, 418, 


and covered the approach by land along the low ground 
from Atlantic to Hamilton avenue. 

It is evident from the position of Forts Stirling, Pon- 
kiesberg, and Box, that but little reliance was placed upon 
the natural defense afforded by Gowanus creek, or on the 
ability of the occupants of Fort Defiance to repulse an 
attack in that direction. In fact, the small number of 
troops which could be spared to defend the lines of 
Brooklyn, made it necessary to shorten these as much as 
possible; and, in pursuance of such a design, these strong 
interior redoubts had been constructed, although uncon- 
nected with each other by lines of entrenchments. A 
great citadel, which should cover five acres, had been con- 
templated in the original plan of the defenses. It was to 
occupy a site near that on which the City Hall now stands, 
and was to be called the Congress. 1 

A month before the vigorous prosecution of the con- 
struction of fortifications in Brooklyn had commenced, Go- 
vernor's Island had been the scene of most stirring activity. 
A thousand men had taken possession of it, on the fifteenth 
of April, and had begun to turn its entire area into a for- 
tification, which would enable its defenders to effectually 
resist the attempts of the enemy's ships to break through 
the obstructions in the channel. 

The number of guns mounted upon the breastworks 
from Fort Putnam to Fort Defiance was thirty-five, of all 
calibres, though mainly eighteen-pounders. Ticonderoga 
and Xew Providence had contributed to the armament; 
and the valor of Col. Allen and Commodore Hopkins 

'Peter Force. — American Archives, v, 480. 


bad combined to give the Americans possession of these 
means of defense. Such were the preparations for resist- 
ance to the invader ; extensive in design, but incomplete in 
accomplishment; planned for a defense, that left defenders 
out of the calculation; and strong for resistance against an 
attack which was never attempted. 1 

To defend those interior lines, in front of the village of 
Brooklyn-church, a force of eight thousand men was the 
.smallest to which they could have been entrusted, with any 
hope of success. In addition to this, the exterior lines 
would require as large a number of troops to hold them, 
for a day, against only an equal number of the enemy. 

All the force which Washington had had at his disposal 
on the 8th of August, to meet these demands, and to 
provide for the exigencies of his position in jSTew York, 
amounted to only seventeen thousand two hundred and 
twenty-five men; of whom three thousand six hundred 
and sixty-eight were sick, and unfit for duty. These raw, 
undisciplined troops, were extended over a line of defense 

'The British fortifications of Brooklyn, erected a few weeks after the 
ret rout of the Americans, were constructed 011 a line interior to and shorter 
than the American entrenchments. They "were constructed with much care, 
though the British seem to have contemplated more the defense of the har- 
bor than of the land. Lieut. Anbmxy, who visited them in October, 1781, 
describes at some length the strong fortifications from which the rebel Gen. 
Washington was driven by the valor of the British troops. He expresses 
great surprise at the evacuation by Gen. Washington and his troops ; when 
the fact is, that at the time of his visit, not one foot of the lines constructed 
hy the Americans had been in existence for more than five years. Gen. 
Johnson says, in his manuscript journal, that on the occupation of the lines 
by the British, the inhabitants of Brooklyn were immediately summoned to 
aid in the leveling of the fortifications of the Americans. This is confirmed 
by the testimony of (Jen. Robertson, in his evidence before tin? committee 
appointed to investigate the conduct of the war by Gen. Howe, in which 
he says : "Three weeks after the occupation of the lines, scarcely a vestige 
of them remained." 



reaching from King's Bridge, on Manhattan Island, to 
Bedford, on Long Island, or more than seventeen miles in 
length. The urgent representations of Washington to the 
governors of Pennsylvania, Maryland and the 2\ew Eng- 
land States, that he was in reality defending the gate to 
each of their capitals, brought nearly ten thousand addi- 
tional militia to his camp, during the succeeding fortnight. 
But of the twenty-seven thousand men now in the. camps 
on Long and Manhattan Islands, seven thousand were 
either in the hospitals, or unfit for service from illness. 
On the twenty-second of August, Col. Hand's Pennsylva- 
ilia regiment of riflemen, then enrolling five hundred and 
fifty men, was the only force occupying the broad area of 
territory between the Brooklyn lines and the shore of Xew 
York bay ; aided by the occasional service of the two 
Kings county troops of horse, as patrols. Within the lines 
were Col. Ward's regiment, nearly six hundred strong: 
Col. Atlee's Pennsylvania battalion, of about the same 
strength ; Col. Smallwood's, of four hundred, and Col. 
Hazlitt's, of two hundred men. Col. Smith's and Col. 
Bemsen's regiments of Long Island militia, of about three 
hundred each, and Col. Lasher's New York State militia, 
numbering five hundred and fifty men, were designated 
to man the lines; their undisciplined character, and the 
suspected loyalty of many of both officers and privates, 
rendering them unfit to be employed in the open field. 1 
About the same time two regiments of Connecticut troop:-, 
under Cols. Huntington and Parsons, and two Pennsvl- 

VTiie first two regiments were formed under the provision of Congress, 
ordering one-fourtli of the militia of the island to be drafted. They num- 
bered eight or nine hundred men. — Silas Wood, 120. 


vanta regiments, under Cols. Miles and Lutz, were ordered 
t,» cross to Brooklyn ; and soon after the landing of the 
British, they were in position, on the hills overlooking 
Fiatbush. The strength of these regiments is unknown; 
hut, estimating them by those of other states, their aggre- 
gate was probably not far from two thousand men. This 
gave a force of five thousand five hundred, officers and 
privates, defending the Brooklyn lines on the 22d of 
.August. More than two-thirds of this number were 
militia; and the regulars, enlisted hi the states of Pennsyl- 
vania, Maryland, and Delaware, had never been in battle. 

Gen. Nathaniel Greene, who was- in command, had made 
himself perfectly familiar with the peculiarities of the 
country in his front, and was particularly zealous in caus- 
ing the whole shore of the bay, and the roads and passes 
through the woods and hills, to be constantly scoured by 
patrols and scouting parties. 

During the interval of repose which succeeded the arrival 
of the last squadron of the fleet, its movements, performed 
with the greatest deliberation, had been the subject of 
profound solicitude, as well as full of mystery to the Ame- 
ricans. One day it had anchored in Jaques bay, on the 
Staten Island shore ; the next, it stood up the inner bay for 
a mile or two, the almost countless vessels of which it was 
composed stretching across from Staten to Long Island, 
and overshadowing the wide inland sea with their sails. 
The morning of another day discovered two of the men- 
of-war, favored by the wind and tide, pressing up the Hud- 
son under full sail, and treating the cannonade from Red 
Hook, two miles distant, with contemptuous silence. A 
few days of marauding from the ship's boats, and of reeon- 


noitering from the maintops, were hurriedly brought to a 
close, by the discovery that the rebels were preparing a 
hot reception for them, with two fire-ships. A sudden 
and rapid flight down the river, back to their anchoring 
ground, enabled tliem to escape the conflagration of the 
fire-ships, which floated harmlessly until they were con- 
sumed. 1 

The morning of the twenty-second of August dawned 
with tropical brilliancy, upon a scene of unecpialed interest 
to the spectators of both armies. Long before the sun had 
risen, the British army had been under arms; and from the 
various camps the entire force was marching, with the loud 
strains of martial music, to the place of embarkation. The 
men-of-war had quit their anchorage, and were standing 
up the bay under easy sail, with open ports, and guns ready 
for action. At the landing on Staten Island, seventy-live 
fleet boats, attended by three bateaux and two galleys, 
received four thousand of the Hessian troops on board; 
and, at the firing of a signal gun, their thousand oars 
dipped almost simultaneously into the waters of the bay. 
Another corps, of five thousand men, was embarked upon 
the transports, which now took up their position under 

'During the interval which had elapsed since his arrival, the spits of 
Gen. Howe had penetrated every camp of the Americans, and haunte&even 
entrenchment. Gen. Greene reported on the 18th, "Our outguards suspect 
that there fere spies about the camp. The sentries have fired half a dozen 
times a night the three preceding nights." This dangerous service was 
not undertaken alone by the loyalists. At the request of General Mercer, 
Captain John Meserole, of Bushwick, adventured upon the hazardous 
attempt to reconnoitre the British camp on Staten Island at night, for the 
pTsrpose of gaining information that would enable the general to attack an 
isolated post under cover of the darkness of the next night. This perilous 
enterprise Capt. Meserole accomplished, aided by his intimate knowledge 
of the island and its secret paths. — See (Jen. Mercer's Report, American 
Archives, I, fifth series, oO'J. 


the guns of the men-of-war, attended by ten bateaux to 

aid in their landing. 1 In another instant the surface of the 
bay between the two islands was covered with the flotilla, 
ing swiftly towards the Long Island shore. In advance 
Bailed the galleys and bateaux, over the shoal water where 
the great ships could not float, firing from their bow-guns 
na they approached the land. 

The scene was not less magnificent than appalling. 
The greatest naval and military force which had ever left 
the shores of England, was now assembled in the harbor 
of New York ; for the mightiest power upon the globe had 
put forth its greatest strength to crush its rebellious colo- 
nies. 2 Thirty-seven men-of-war guarded a transport fleet 
of four hundred vessels, freighted with enormous trains of 
artillery, and every conceivable munition of war; with 
troops of artillery and cavalry horses, and provisions for 
(lie sustenance of the thirty-five thousand soldiers and 
sailors who had been borne across the ocean in their hulls. 
Amid all the stirring scenes which ninety years past hare 
witnessed in the great metropolis of the western world, 
nothing, which will compare in magnitude and grandeur 
with that upon which dawned the morning of the 22d of 
August, 1776. has human eve since beheld in America. 

'One element of the invading army Las escaped the notice of historians, 
Who have not failed to comment upon its heterogeneous character. Orders 
had been issued that the old laws of England should be revived against 
Sorners, Egyptians, or Bohemians, as the people called Gipsies were termed ; 
and many of them were impressed into the ranks. These erratic people took 
the first occasion that offered to desert, and many of them never returned to 
England. — Simps* .<> History of tin: Gipsies. 

3 Sir George Collier, who commanded the Rainbow, the leading v< — 1 • : 
the convoy, or, t he landing of the Hessians on the 2'2d of. August, makes this 
statement in his narrative. — See Appendix 24. 


Almost a century has elapsed; and the gigantic schemes 
of commerce, and the awful energies of warfare, have alike 
failed to assemble a fleet so numerous, or an invading 
force so vast, upon the waters of the Western ocean. 

So thoroughly planned had been the movement, that, 
by eight o'clock, the flotilla was under way; aud before 
mid-day fifteen thousand men, with forty pieces of artillery, 
and the horses of the regiment of light dragoons, had 
been landed at Denyse's point, then used as a ferry-Ian cling 
from Staten Island. On the approach of the enemy, Col. 
Hand's riflemen had slowly withdrawn from the shore, 
only pausing to deliver a shot or two, at long range, on the 
advancing boats. 1 In ITew York, the Hoom which fol- 
lowed the announcement of the landing of the enemy, was 
only relieved by the bustle of the preparations for defense. 
Bodies of the mihtia, which could scarcely be dignified by 
the title of regiments, were hurried over the ferry to 
Brooklyn ; apprehension, almost attaining to despair, Ail- 
ing their hearts with gloom and sadness. We have the 
records of numbers of these soldiers, unaccustomed to the 
presence of an angry foe, to testify to the awful dread 
which over-clouded every mind, at this fateful period. 
Nor is this a subject for surprise, to one who reflects upon 
the gigantic disparity of the forces soon to meet in the 
terrible onset of battle. To most of our countrymen, who 
crossed the East River on the morning of the 22d of 
August, it was a self-devotion almost equivalent to volun- 
tary martyrdom. 

'('apt. afterwards Lord Harris, declares the landing- to have been made 
without opposition : but there is reason to believe that the flotilla vcas fired 
upon by a battery. 


Thronged as the day had been with portentous events, 
and shadowed by forebodings, it was not permitted to close 
without a war of the elements, which added to the horrors 
that already hung over the American camp in. Brooklyn. 
A dark cloud rapidly gathered in the west, as the day 
waned, and in a few moments overspread the sky in that 
direction. It was evident that it was freighted with 
electrical bolts, that would soon burst, with all the vio- 
lence of our summer thunder gusts, upon the devoted 
camp. In a few moments the roar of the artillery of 
Leaven, and the flashes of the sheet lightning, were appall- 
iug to the stoutest warrior. For three hours the crash of 
thunder, following instantly the blinding glare of light, 
was almost incessant; and when morning dawned, the 
victims of elemental rage lay in more than one tent, never 
to be appalled with the sound of battle again. A captain 
and two lieutenants, of McDougalPs regiment, w r ere killed 
by one flash ; and when the canvass of another fallen tent 
was raised, it disclosed the bodies of ten soldiers, who had 
in one moment been summoned to the presence of their 
Maker. It was under the influence of such an ominous 
event that the American army was to meet an enemy for 
the first time in the open field. 1 

1 For minute accounts of this terrible exhibition of electrical power, see 
Chaplain Benedict's Narrative. Document 15. Also American Archives, 
i, fourth series, p. 1112 and 11G3. Copied in Document 22. 



The Battles of Flatbush, Gowaxus, and Brooklyn. 

The lauding of the British, at Denyse's ferry, decided 
the point of attack, uncertainty about which had filled the 
mind of the American commander with, grave anxiety. 1 
Preparations to receive the enemy on the wooded heights 
of Flatbush and Gowanus, were now hurriedly made; while 
Col. Hand's riflemen hung upon their front, to embarrass 
and check their progress as long as possible. The con- 
sternation which seized the minds of the inhabitants, 
impelled them to instant flight. Such fearful stories had 
been narrated of the barbarity of the Hessian invaders, 
that nothing was expected but indiscrimate massacre at 
their hands. Houses and lands, and personal effects, were 
abandoned by the farmers of Flatbush and Hew Utrecht, 
who lied to the Brooklyn lines, or to Connecticut, for safety. 
The cattle were driven from the farms by squads of Ame- 
rican soldiers, or were left in the field or the stall by their 
owners. The food with which the tables had been spread 
was even left untasted, so absorbing was the fear of the 
approaching enemy. 2 

'"Before the landing of the enemy on Long Island, the point of attack 
could not be known, or any satisfactory judgment formed of their intentions. 
It might be on Long Island, or Bergen, or directly upon the city." — II W-- 
i,\j ton's litter to Congress, Sept. 8th, 1776. 

8 An illustration of the mutual distrust with which the British and the 
residents of Long Island viewed each other, is afforded by an incident 


In compliance with orders issued from headquarters on 
the first appearance of the British forces on Staten Island, 
the grain and hay of the farmers had been either stacked 
in the field at the harvest, or removed to such a distance 
from the barns that the destruction of the forage by fire 
would not endanger them. The landing of the enemy 
was the signal for a conflagration that spread over the 
wide plains of the five towns of Kings county, devouring 
the rich harvests, covering the land with a dense canopy of 
smoke, or lighting up the gloomy night with lurid flames. 1 
Marching behind the fugitives, the advanced guard of 
the enemy pressed forward, clearing the woods and lanes 
of Col. Hand's riflemen, who still hung upon the front and 
flunks of the column. Lord Cornwallis, in command of the 
British grenadiers and light infantry, followed closely after, 
and in the afternoon of the 22d some of his troops reached 
Flatbush. As soon as information of the landing was 
received by Washington, he ordered a reinforcement of 
six regiments for General Sullivan, under the apprehension 
that the Brooklyn lines would be immediately assaulted. 2 

occurring at the farm house of Van Duyne in New Utrecht. When the news of 
the landing and march of the enemy readied the family, they were engaged 
in withdrawing from the oven the abundant store of bread and baked meats 
which the provident Dutch customs of the Island required. The display of 
tempting food upon the table, abandoned in the sudden flight, suggested to 
the British soldiers, who entered the house, nothing less than a deliberate 
attempt at poisoning them, and they accordingly expressed their indignation 
by tossing the rich joints and white loaves on their bayonets about the 

1 "There is an abundance of smoke on Long Island, our folks having set 
fire to stacks of hay, etc., to prevent the enemy's being benefited, in case 
they get any advantage against us." — Letter dated Aug. 22d, 17TG. See 
Document 23. 
3 To Major General Heath. 

" Sir : Yesterday morning the enemy landed at Gravesend bay upon Long 
Island, to the number of about eight thousand, from the best information I 


A small redoubt had been constructed by the Amcri- 
cans near the western boundary of the village of Flatbush ; 
and here occurred the first collision between the British 
and the American forces on our Island. Lord Cornwall!*; 
had been directed to assume command of the reserves, and 
move upon Flatbush. At Gravesend he halted ; but ho 
pushed forward the vanguard, under the Hessian Colonel 
Donop, to Flatbush, where it arrived in the evening. Three 
hundred American riflemen, who had occupied the village, 
abandoned it, as soon as the Hessian battery of six guns 
had taken position and opened Are. The possession of 
this slumberous little Dutch village by the Hessians was 
not. however, destined to be maintained without a struggle. 
The awe inspired by the imposing array of the German 
troops had worn away in the cool night, and early on the 
morning of the 23d the slumbers of the heavy-eyed Hes- 
sians were broken by a dash upon their right wing, resting 
near the west end of the village. On the thickly wooded 
hills near Flatbush, Col. Hand was in command of the 
whole Pennsylvania battalion of riflemen, consisting of 
five hundred and fifty-three officers and privates. Believ- 
ing that the familiarity acquired by combat with those 

can get. Colonel Hand reheated before them, burning as he came along 
several parcels of wheat, and such other matters as he judged would fall 
into the < nemy's hands. Our first accounts were, that they intended, by o 
forced march, to surprise Gen. Sullivan's lines, who commands daring the 
il!n< pg of (Jen. Greene ; whereupon I immediately reinforced that post with 
*!>; regiments. But the enemy halted last night at Flatbush. If they 
attack General Sullivan this day, and should show no disposition to atta< k 
me likewise at the making of the next flood [i. e. in New York, where Gen. 
Washington was then stationed], I shall send such further reinforcements 
to Long Island as I may judge expedient, not choosing to weaken this ;■< ■■-•' 
too much before 1 am certain that the enemy are not making a feint upon 
Long Island, to draw our force to that quarter, when their real design may 
perhaps be upon this." — }YMhinfftori'a letter, Aug. 28d, 1T7G. 


formidable strangers, would dissipate the unreasoning 
dread with whieh they were regarded, Col. Hand ordered 
an assault upon their lines. 1 

The attack was spirited, though feebly maintained, as 
tin 1 Americans retired to the woods so soon as a field-piece 
was brought to bear upon them. Gathering confidence, 
however, with their experience, the Americans, on the after- 
noon of the same day, made preparations for another as- 
sault. What was the force engaged, or who commanded 

<J> CD * 

in person, is uncertain, as the accounts of these skirmishes 
are derived only from Hessian journalists and tradition. 
Col. Donop's left wing, encamped upon the ground a short 
distance west of the Brooklyn and lew Utrecht road, was 
on this occasion the object of attack; So impetuous and 
fierce was the assault, that that portion of the Hessian 
corps was driven back upon the main body, then lying- 
south of the Dutch Church, and the whole detachment was 
held at bay for more than an hour. The fire of the Ame- 
rican riflemen was so galling that the Hessians were com- 
pelled to improvise redoubts, from the houses of Adrian 
Hegeman and LefFerts Martense, for the purpose of repel- 
ling their attack. In these buildings they cut holes, 
wherever these afforded them position for firing upon the 
American sharpshooters. At length the cannon, from 

1 " On Friday the 23d, a party of British took possession of Flatbush, which 
brou g]it on a hot fire from our troopfe; who are advantageously posted in and 
on every eminence. An advanced party are encamped a little to the north 
west of Flatbush church, and have a battery somewhat west of Jeremiah 
Vanderbilt, whence they fire briskly upon our people, who often approach 
and discharge their rifles within two hundred yards of their works. One of 
our gunners threw a shell into Mr. Axtel's house where a number of officers 
were at dinner, but we have not heard, what damage was done." — On0<r- 
donk's Revolutionary Incidents, TOO. 


which the Hessian gunners had doubtless been driven by 
our riflemen, wore brought into position, and opened their 
fire upon the assaulting party. 1 At tins time the houses 
of Jeremiah Vandcrbilt, LefFert Lefferts, and Evert Hege- 
mau, were in flames, and added by their conflagration to 
the horrors which war had brought upon this quiet village. 
Although it has been a popular habit to charge this incen- 
diarism upon the Hessian invaders, it is yet certain that 
these dwellings were iired by the Americans, to prevent 
their occupation as defensive positions by the enemy. 2 

Our countrymen, to whom the unfamiliar roar of ord- 
nance had been so dreadful on the day before, had now dis- 
covered that its thunder was not accompanied by the 
inevitable bolt of death ; and it required the steady service 
of the entire battery, for some minutes, to compel their 
retreat. 3 On the 25th the Americans determined to meet 
the Hessian artillery with the same arms; and accordingly 
a strong body of riflemen, accompanied by several guns, 
pushed forward beyond the edge of the woods, and opened 
lire, with round and grape shot, upon the devoted village, 
behind whose walls the enemy had sought shelter from the 

'"This afternoon tke enemy formed and attempted to pass the road by 
Bedford. A smart fire between them and the riflemen ensued. The officer 
r--i. t off t'»r a reinforcement, -which 1 ordered immediately. A number of 
musketry came to the a -si stance of the riflemen, whose lire, with that of 
our field pieces, caused a retreat of the enemy. Our men followed them to 
tin house of Judge Lefferts (where a number of them had taken lodgings), 
dtove them out, and burned the house and a number of other buildings 
contiguous." — Gen. SaUisan's letter. Document 21. 

' Washington considered the burning of these houses unnecessary and 
criminal. The irregular skirmishing seems to have been equally unsatis- 
factory to him. See Document. 20, in Appendix. 

3 Extract of a h tier from Xc/r York, (toted A vrj. 24t7t, 1770 : " The <h\y 
before yesterday a detachment of the enemy landed at New Utrecht on 
Long Island; they are said to be about nine thousand. Two or three 


rebel sharpshooters. The attack was well maintained for 
a time, but was at length repulsed by the greater weight 
and steadiness of the Hessian artillery. The poor Ger- 
mans, however, began to find this kind of warfare harassing 
and depression They had been accustomed to fight ene- 
mies who slept at night, and behaved altogether in a de- 
cent and respectable style of belligerency. These reckless, 
dare-devil barbarians, who routed up their camp at night 
with the deadly din of war, or who slyly crawled serpent- 
like into an ambush during the day, from which their 
long rifles wounded and slew their comrades, were an 
intolerable nuisance, which the English government ought 
to have abated before it called upon its neighbors to aid 
it in fighting. So loudly was their disgust expressed at 
this sort of warfare, that Lord Cornwallis was fain to re- 
lieve them from picket and guard duty, so that they might 
be enabled to procure a little rest. 1 The inconsiderate 
Americans, however, beat up their camp again at 2 o'clock 
on the morning of the 26th, and they were once more hur- 
ried to the front to assist in repelling these midnight prow- 
lers. This was the fifth considerable skirmish, in three 

skirmishes happened yesterday between their advanced guards and ours, in 
which Ave were victorious; we lost not a man, but killed several of the 
enepay, among the yest one British and one Hessian ollicer. The former 
had a good deal of gold in his pocket ; cannot get fairly at particulars ; the 
Hessians had rifles. We have got several neat cutteaus and fusees, such as 
officers use, from which we suppose the officers were killed or very badly 
wounded and carried off the field by the enemy. The enemy (the advanced 
guard said to be three thousand) attempted getting to Bedford, on the 
Jamaica road, but were driven a mile and a half further back than where 
they set out from. There is firing upon the island now." — American 
Archives, 1, 1144. 

*For minute details of these skirmishes, the reader is referred to the Hes- 
sian accounts in JElking'i Auxiliaries in America^ an extract from which is 
given in Document 40; and also to Cat. Chambers letter, Document 151. 


days, which these uneasy Yankees had compelled the slow- 
moving Germans to repel, and their pertinacity was becom- 
ing unendurable. During the afternoon of the 26th, a 
stronger force of the Americans than had yet been engaged 
was pushed forward, in an assault on the Hessian lines; and 
this time with such threatening demonstrations that Lord 
Cornwallis, whose instructions were imperative not to press 
the rebels from their position, immediately ordered Colonel 
Donop to retire. The brave though cruel Hessian begged 
hard to be permitted to remain and intrench himself, but he 
was without doubt compelled to retire to the main body, 
which was far too powerful for the light assaulting column 
of the Americans to moke any impression upon it. 1 

During the afternoon of the 26th, Lord Cornwallis had 
withdrawn his command, which formed the advanced 
guard, to Flatlands ; and at 9 o'clock in the evening he 
moved eastward, on the road to "New Lotts. He was fol- 
lowed by a heavy corps under Clinton, who commanded 
the division. 

Thirteen regiments, with sixteen pieces of artillery, 
under the command of Lord Percy, marched immediately 
after Clinton ; and this last corps was accompanied by the 
commander-in-chief, Sir "William Howe. 

In profound silence, and under cover of the night, these 
troops were withdrawn from their encampments, in which 

Mn the skirmishes which occurred on this day, Col. Martin of the New 
Jersey levies. Deceived a severe wound in the breast. — Washington's Utter 
to (Congress, Aug. 20th. 

Harmanus Rutgers fell at the Ftatbash Pass, being struck in the breast 
by a six-pound shot. — Ontkrdonk** Uccolutionary Incidents, 796. 

Further accounts of the skirmishes near the village of Flatbush will be 
found in Col. Chambers' letter. Document 31. 


Ihc tents were left standing, and every appearance of occu- 
pation was maintained. The greatest secrecy was pre- 
served regarding the intended route, and every caution 
taken to prevent its discovery. The movement of the 
three divisions was very slow, in order to give time for 
the occupation of all the points of anticipated attack by 
the light troops under Cornwallis. These proceeded with 
the greatest rapidity and secrecy, everywhere sweeping up 
such of the inhabitants as might give the alarm, until they 
reached the little salt creek which was crossed by Sclioon- 
inaker's bridge, a short distance south-west of the present 
site of East Xew York. Here preparations were made for 
a serious resistance. Skirmishers were thrown out, right 
and left ; and as the position could not easily be turned, 
the greatest caution was exercised in approaching it. 

To the surprise of the British, the post was entirely 
unoccupied ; and the route was now open to the foot of 
the hills where the Jamaica road entered upon the plains 
at East Xew York. Crossing the fields from the Xew 
Lotts road, in a direct line to this point, Lord Cornwallis 
arrived, about 2 o'clock in the morning, at William How- 
ard's tavern ; which still remains, at the corner of Broadway 
and the Jamaica and Brooklyn turnpike, then called the 
King's highway. 

Here the three tories, who had hitherto guided the in- 
vaders, were at fault ; and at their recommendation the 
innkeeper, William Howard, and his son, a young lad of 
fourteen years, were compelled to guide the detachment 
to a pass over the hills known as the Rockaway path. 
This was a bridle road, which diverged from Xew Bush- 
wick Lane, near the north entrance of Evergreen Cemetery, 


unci, crossing tlio latter near the present chapel, emerged 
from it into the Jamaica road at the south-east corner 
of what is now the Cemetery. 

As narrated by their young but intelligent guide and 
observer, every incident of the march shows, the greatest 
circumspection. The young forest trees that obstructed the 
route, were sawed instead of being chopped down, to avoid 
the noise which might alarm the American outposts, sup- 
posed to be guarding the deep winding cut on the Bedford 
road through the hills. The guns were drawn by six 
horses, which dashed up the hill at full speed after the 
road had been cleared, and the flanking party had passed. 
The vanguard marched rapidly through the defile, and 
by a circuitous route reached the Bedford road, only to 
find the pass unguarded. 1 

The writer has several times had the good fortune to 
trace the route of the British army through the pass 
over the hills, accompanied by the gentleman who is now 
the proprietor of a portion of the ground, and who was 
Often visited by the younger Howard. This person had 
accurately and minutely pointed out every step of the 
march in which he guided Cbrnwallis on that night. 

The astounding intelligence that the Americans had 
nrgUvtvd to guard a pass which had been turned wit!) 
sucli labor and caution, was communicated to the main 
body, then resting on the plain at East Xew York; and it 
was immediately under march, along the King's highway. 
The day had now dawned, .and the troops along the whole 
line were halted for breakfast upon the Bushwick hills. 

'Narration of William Howard to James Piliino-, 


At 9 o'clock the second division, under Sir Henry Clin- 
ton, had reached Bedford, having had the amazing good 
fortune to accomplish the most difficult of military move- 
ments: a night march, over an intricate and unknown 
route, in the immediate vicinity of the enemy, in perfect 
secrecy. The advanced guard had swept every human 
beiug along the line of march into its great drag-net, and 
silenced every tongue which could tell the tale. 

Leaving, at this point, the movements of the invading 
forces, let us turn now to observe the changing fortunes 
of the American army. 

The short night of midsummer was just beginning to 
disappear before the gray dawn of morning, when Lord 
Stirling's division was aroused by the announcement, 
made by Gen. Putnam in person, of the approach of the 
British forces on the road from the Xarrows. 1 

The woods that covered the hilly and broken ground 
from Flatbush plains to Gowanus bay, and extended in an 
unbroken range from the present Greenwood to Evergreen 
Cemetery, concealed alike the numbers and movements 
of the enemy, and the positions and defenses of the Ame- 
ricans. Behind this green curtain, 17,000 of the best troops 
of Europe were marching to attack 5,000 undisciplined 
men, on the first pitched battle-field of the Revolution. 

1 General Putnam was now in command of all the forces on Long Island, 
while General Sullivan commanded the advanced line upon the exterior 
defenses. Gen. Greene, who had hefore been in command, had. written to 
Washington on the 15th of August, from Long Island, as follows: " 1 am 
sorry to be under the necessity of acquainting you, that I am confined to my 
bed with a raging fever. The critical situation of affairs makes me tin nv ire 
anxious; but I Lope through the assistance of Providence to be able to ride, 
before the presence of the enemy may make it absolutely necessary." 

It is scarcely necessary to say that this hope was completely unfulfilled, 
as Gen. Greene for some weeks subsequently was dangerously ill. 


Hitherto the contest had been confined to the defense of 
a redoubt, like that at Bunker hill, or to the siege of a 
■city, as at Boston. jSTow the trial was to be upon the open 
field. Taught by the harassing and terrible retreat from 
Concord, when the lanes and roads of Lexington were 
strewed with British dead and wounded-, and by the dread- 
ful slaughter on Charlestown Xeck, where two entire regi- 
ments had been swept away only to obtain possession of 
a worthless position already abandoned, the enemy had at 
last determined to treat the Rebellion as an affair of no 
mean importance. 

The great maxim of war taught by Frederick the — that to gain victories it is only necessary to be 
strongest at the point of attack — had been adopted by the 
British commanders; and the enormous advantage which 
was secured to them by their possession of a fleet and 
their command of the water, enabled them to act in 
accordance with it. They were now, therefore, about to 
test the truth of the Prussian conqueror's motto. A vast 
armada, with hundreds of great guns, covered the waters 
m New York Bay; a great and compact body of disci- 
plined soldiers was soon to be hurled, in one solid and 
homogeneous mass, upon a little army of raw militia, 
scattered thinly along an extended line of defense, almost 
without anus, and unprotected in its rear by even a 
single vessel of war. 

It is very difficult to form a satisfactory estimate of the 
number of American troops on Long Island, on this and 
the subsequent days. Washington, in his letter to Con- 
gress, written on the 26th, says: "The shifting and 
changing which the regimerits have undergone of late, has 

o — o 


proven-led their making proper returns, and. of course puts 
it out of my power to transmit a general one of the army." 
The whole number of American troops which crossed to 
Long Island, at various limes, before and after the battle, 
has been estimated at nine to eleven thousand; but the 
difficulty of estimating the strength of the force opposed 
to the British is greatly increased by the manner in which 
Washington rated his troops. In some of his letters, which 
mention numbers, it is evident that he referred only to the 
regulars, entirely disregarding the militia. During the 
battle, also, and on the subsequent days, troops were 
crossed in regiments, battalions, companies, and even in 
unorganized, squads, which in the hurry and confusion 
were hardly even enrolled. 

At this time, however, the whole American force was 
probably not greater than five thousand five hundred men. 1 

Xo continuous line of defense outside of the entrench- 
ments had been fixed upon ; and the defensible positions 
were occupied only by strong picket guards, which should 
either have been instructed to retreat upon the main body 
as soon as the intentions of the enemy were developed, or 
have been at once and heavily reinforced when the point 
of attack became apparent. 2 

'Col. Haslett, in a letter dated Oct. 4th, 1770, says: "On Tuesday, the 
27th, Lord Stirling's brigade, consisting of five regiments and a few of 
Sullivan's, not exceeding five thousand men, were ordered to advance beyond 
the lines and repulse the enemy." 

5 In his orders to Putnam, dated August 25th, Washington says : " The 
wood next Bed Hook should be well attended to. Put some of the most 
disorderly riflemen into it. The militia are "the most indifferent troops, and. 
will do for the interior works, whilst your best men should at all hazards 
prevent the enemy's passing the wood and approaching the works. The 
woods should be secured by abatis; traps and ambuscades should be laid 
for their parties sent after cattle." — Docauuint 20. 


On the 2Gtli, a picket guard, from Col. Alice's battalion 
of one hundred and twenty men, was thrown forward on 
the right, as far as the junction of Martense's lane with 
the Shore Poad. Here stood the Ked Lion Inn, the cen- 
tral point around which on the next day swayed the 
eddying tide of battle. Martense's lane wound through the 
Greenwood hills in a narrow defile; and along its border.-, 
wherever the rocks and stone walls afforded defensible 
points, the battalion took position. Near midnight two of 
the enemy's scouts were observed by the sentries, ap- 
proaching across a melon patch, and were immediately fired 
upon, when the body to which they belonged retreated. 

At one o'clock, however, the enemy reappeared, two or 
three huudred strong, and exhibited an intention of sur- 
rounding the picket-guard, and cutting off their retreat. 
The watchfulness of the sentries prevented a surprise, and 
two or three close volleys were discharged upon them ; after 
which, finding themselves outnumbered two to one, the 
guard retreated. Information of the enemy's approach was 
at once communicated to Gen. Putnam, who was anxiously 
awaiting; the tidings and he at once proceeded to Stirling's 
'vinp fvr the purpose of giving orders for his advance. 

The morning of the eventful 27th of August, was now 
dawning. It found another portion of the American 
troops, under Gen. Sullivan, in line of battle on the ridge 
of hills overlooking the enemy's encampment at Flatbush. 
So peculiar in its formation was this line that it is difficult 
to comprehend its details from a single stand-point. The 
centre of the American lines, however, was at the junc- 
tion of the Porte road with the Flatbush road, near where 
the present Flatbush Avenue terminates, at the City line. 


At thk point a. small redoubt Lad been constructed, 
whose miniature guns mocked the Valley Grove pass with 
the impotent threat of a defense. Scarcely a mile away, 
upon the plain at the entrance of the village of Flatbush, 
was the little half-moon intrenchment, thrown up by the 
A nierieans, and abandoned on the approach of CornwalhV 
troops. It will be recollected that this General had made 
a threatening demonstration upon the American works on 
the hills, on the first day of his occupation of Flatbush., 
but. had retired when his reconnoissance had developed the 
position of the rebel troops, and had proved the necessity 
of an assault to obtain possession of it. 

The abandonment of the lower redoubt by the Ameri- 
cans, without serious resistance, had suggested the proba- 
bility of a similar movement from the hill work, whenever 
it should be attacked in force; but this was precisely what 
the enemy was most desirous to prevent. On the other 
hand around this feeble redoubt, the Americans anticipated 
that their opponent would concentrate his forces, and that 
here would occur the deadliest struggle of the day. 

At this point, therefore, Major-General Sullivan, the 
commanding officer outside the entrenchments, took his 
position. From the centre of his line the range of hills 
bent, in an obtuse angle, forming two sides of an immense 
amphitheatre, along whose slopes waited the spectators 
who were so soon to become actors in this bloody drama. 
A small valley descended to the plain, from the summit 
of the rid^e which was crowned by the redoubt ; and 
along this natural glacis the enemy was expected to 
approach. The ridge was broken into small eminences, 
separated by shallow depressions, which were in many 


places covered with bogs, of a few acres in extent, impo* - 
sable to any troops except as skirmishers. Everywhere, 
over this varied surface, grew the luxuriant native forest 
trees. The slopes of the low hillocks to their summits, 
the valleys, and the swamps, were covered with them. 
Only the broad plain below had been cleared to receive 
the plough; and upon it rose the quaint structures of the 
Dutch villages of Midwout or Flatbush, Amersfort or 
Flatlands, Xew Utrecht, and Gravesend. 

In full view of the American front lay the combined 
armies of England and the German principalities; while 
the position of the American forces was masked entirely 
from the view of the enemy by the great forest, under- 
neath which they were intrenched. The very mystery 
surrounding their position obtained for it the respect of 
the enemy, who had now paused, in front of the dark 
woods which hid it, for five days. Following the summii 
of the hills in the disposition of his troops, Sullivan had 
placed the regiment on his right facing obliquely his 
centre and left. Along his front the trees had been felled ; 
and rude fortifications had been made of their trunks, while 
the branches had been hastily arranged in a line of aUilis. 

Xcar the redoubt, in front of the lines, had stood the great 
white oak which had become historical as a monumental 
tree, being named in the patent of Gov. Dongan which 
established the boundary lines of Brooklyn. The stern 
exigencies of war had called for its sacrifice; and its great 
branches, filling the narrow lane, proved a formidable 
though a temporary obstacle to the enemy's advance. A 
nearly impassable swamp, on the east of the road, added 
such strength to that part of the front as confirmed the 


fetftwicans in the belief thai Valley Grove would be the 
route of the assaulting- column. 

The intrenchments at this place were of the slightest 
character which could be dignified with the term, as it 
formed no part of Washington's design that they should 
he occupied, except as exterior lines, from which his troops 
would retreat to the inner and strongly intrenched line of 
defense. Still, the Americans had not been entirely idle, 
a^ shallow pits thrown up along the front attested. These 
were sufficiently imposing to give a momentary check to 
an enemy advancing upon the front. The great strength 
of the position, however, lay in its mystery; and that 
uncertainty made the dense woods of the Flatbush hills an 
object of dread to the British commander, as his long 
delay and cautious approaches fully proved. The field of 
slaughter on Charleston heights was still present to his 
imagination, and made him wary of another encounter, 
which might prove as formidable and as inglorious. 

One scanty regiment of Sullivan's command stretched 
along the brow of the hill, on either side of the Flatbush 
road, three or four hundred feet south of its junction 
with the Porte road. Two regiments, on the left, pro- 
longed the line to the east of the Flatbush road for nearly 
a mile; while the First Pennsylvania regiment, com- 
manded by Col. Miles, occupied the extreme left, nearly 
a mile further east, where their position was intersected by 
the Clove Eoad, half a mile south of Bedford. 1 

3 Among the combatants on the Bide of the Americans were a number of 
Indians of the friendly tribes. This fact is stated by Col. Guy Johnston, in 
his letter to Lord Gfermaine, in which he affirms that several Indians were 
taken prisoners by the British in the battle of Long Island. — Col. Hist, of 
Xttc York, vol. vin, p. 741. 


The right wing of Sullivan's command was therefore 
supposed to rest upon Stirling's left, while the other wing 
hung suspended in air. Three miles of front were occu- 
pied by four regiments of raw provincial troops, with 
many a long break between ; while, but little more than a 
mile distant, seventeen thousand British soldiers awaited 
the signal for assault. 

On the 23d, Washington, in general orders had addressed 
to his army a solemn appeal, in which every sentiment that 
dignifies humanity was called into requisition, to fill the 
hearts of his soldiers with firmness and courage. " The 
enemy have now landed on Long Island ; and the hour is 
fust approaching on which the honor and success of this 
army, and the safety of our bleeding country, depend. 
Kemember, officers and soldiers, that you are free men. 
fighting for the blessings of liberty; that slavery will be 
your portion, and that of your posterity, if you do not 
acquit yourselves like men. Remember how your courage 
and spirit have been despised and traduced by your cruel 
invaders ; though they have found by dear experience, at 
Boston, Charleston, and oilier places, what a few men, 
contending in their own land, and in the best oi' causes, 
cuii do against hirelings and mercenaries. Be cool but 
determined ; do not fire at a distance, but wait for orders 
from your officers. It is the General's express order that 
if any man attempt to skulk, lie down, or retreat without 

That Gen. Washington contemplated the employment of Indians in the 
American service, and was only deterred by his conviction of the impost?] 
bihty of depending upon them for other purposes than plunder and mas- 
sucre, we learn from his own letters,— Sparks* $ Letters of ty'a&ftingtun, vol. 
tit, p. 431. 


orders, he be instantly shot down as an example. lie 
hopes no such will be found in this army, but on the con- 
trary that every one for himself resolving to conquer or 
die, and trusting in the smiles of heaven upon so just a 
cause, will behave with bravery and resolution." It was 
now evident to the Commander-in-chief that the assault 
upon his lines, so long impending, would be but little 
longer delayed. 

For live days the white tents of the enemy had covered 
the plain beneath the hills, almost as far as the eye could 
distinguish their form. Five miles to the south they 
stretched, in an unbroken line, to the hamlet of Flatlands ; 
and nearly as far to the south-west, where the little cluster 
of farm-houses showed the site of the Dutch village of 
Gravesend, their canvass walls glistened in the sun. The 
roll of the enemy's drums, the rattle of arms and accou- 
trements in the daily parade, and the shout of command, 
rose faintly to the ear from the wide plain ; and sight and 
sound combined to exhibit to the sadly thin and feeble 
lines of the American army on the hills, what a vast 
armament, what gigantic forces, could in a single hour be 
hurled upon them. 

It will be seen, from the preceding narrative, that the 
position of the American army on the morning of the 27th 
of August was one of appalling danger, of the extent of 
which, however, not one of its officers or men was yet con- 
scious. ]STo other portion of it was so complete^ isolated 
as was Stirling's division. 

As already narrated, Gen. Putnam had hastened to give 
Lord Stirling orders to advance, immediately on hearing 
of the approach of the enemy at Martcnse's lane. Lord 


Stirling was encamped outside the intrenchments, and, ft 
he commanded the right wing, was doubtless occupyii / 
the junction of the Gowanus and Forte roads. 

The repulse of Cornwallis at Valley Grove, and the 
skirmish near the Red Lion Inn on the night of the 26th, 
were believed to show movements of heads of columns, 
pushed forward to feel the position of the American troop?, 
preparatory to an attack in force. Gen. Putnam, whose 
notions of military affairs were confined to the simple 
tactics of fighting the enemy whenever and wherever he 
challenged, at once determined to order forward all his 
disposable troops. Putnam's mind was entirely pre-oceu- 
picd by the opinion which he had formed that the grand 
attack would be made on the Gowanus road, where the as- 
saulting column could be protected by the guns of the ileet. 
This opinion he retained, although Gen. Sullivan had 
strongly pressed upon his attention the necessity of guard- 
ing the Jamaica pass. At three o'clock Lord Stirling, who 
had been aroused in his tent by Gen. Putnam in person, was 
informed by him that an important movement of the 
enemy had commenced on the extreme right, and that they 
were advancing in force through the Gowanus road from 
Flatbush. Stirling was directed to proceed at once with 
the twO nearest regiments, and take such a position as 
would hold them in check. 

Arlee's Pennsylvania and Smallwood's Maryland regi- 
ments, with Col. Ilaslett's Delaware battalion, composed 
the cbiumil which Lord Stirling led on this eventful morn- 
ing. Cols. Smallwood and Haslett had been detained in the 
city on the night of the 26th, being engaged in official 
duty at the court-martial then sitting for the trial oi 


Liitn.-Cul. Zedwitz. At the rising of the court it was 
too late, as Col. Smallwood asserts, for crossing the East 
lit ver to Brooklyn; but pushing over early next morning 
they joined their regiments on the field of battle, while 
these were warmly engaged in repelling the first attack. 

Jt is pleasant at this day, when all the mysterious craft 
and subtlety of the British plans of battle are unveiled to 
us — when we see how surely and resistlessly that terrible 
force had closed around the feeble ranks of the Ameri- 
cans — to notice the complaisant and honest confidence ot 
these young warriors in their own prowess; the vigor and 
power of which, they firmly believed, kept the British 
Lion at bay for six long hours. The mutual compliments 
of these brave Southerners had excited their vanity, but 
nothing could lessen their fervent courage. " "We were 
much caressed by the Southern troops," says Col. Hasiefct 
in a letter written a few months after the battle, " and 
highly complimented on our appearance and dexterity. 
Though six times our number, the enemy did not dare 
advance and attack us."' 

Col. Smallwood is more reserved in his expressions of 
assurance, in a letter written about the same time, 
which is by far the most satisfactory of the current ac- 
counts of the contlict. His succinct and graphic narration 
of the battle of Gowanus indicates a clear eye, and an 
educated and thoughtful brain, through which a suspicion 
of the enemy's crafty purposes seems to have strayed. 

There is something strangely affecting in the language 
of the Maryland council of safety, on announcing to 
their delegate in Congress that the State quota of troops 
had been raised, when we recall the heroic devotion 


and the sad fate of the noble youths who filled their rank • • 
" We shall have near four thousand men with you in a short 
time. This exceeds our proportion for the flying-camp ; 
hut we are sending all that we have, that can he armed 
and equipped, and the people of Xew York, for whom we 
have great affection, can have no more than our all." 

Hastily forming these forces, Stirling pushed on to the 
ground lately occupied hy Col. Atlee's picket corps. In 
his letter to "Washington, written from on hoard the ene- 
my's fleet, while a prisoner of war, he says that the enemy 
were then approaching on the road from Fiatbush to the 
Eed Lion Tavern. 1 

Half a mile before reaching that point, Stirling was 
met by Colonel Atlee's battalion, then slowly retiring 
from the advancing enemy, whose front was just discern- 
ible to the General in the gray dawn, approaching between 
him and the Heel Lion. The line of battle was at once 
formed, at right angles to the shore road, from the bay to 
the summit of the hills near the present western boundary 
of Greenwood Cemetery. 2 

Col. Atlee's command was sent forward as a skirmish 
line, and took position on the left of the road, in the 

} Enclosed with tins communication wasalist of the several battalions 
and companies; on which Col. Smallwood's battalion is rated at nine com 
panics, of seventy-six men each, or a total strength of six hundred and eighty- 
four men. It is probable that on the 2?th of August this battalion did not 
number more than four hundred and fifty. See Document 33. 

'Colonel Samuel J. Atlec has left an interesting journal of the events of 
the 2Gth of August, which will be found in Document 10. 

r l 'his statement indicates very clearly to us two points of interest : 

First, that part of Gen. Grant's forces marched from Fiatbush through 
Martense's lane, a narrow road that skirts the southern boundary of Green- 
wood Cemetery ; and, Second, that the Red Lion Tavern was situated near 
the junction of Martense's lane with the Gowanns road. 


orchard of "Wynant Lennet; while a portion of the Mary- 
land regiment occupied a curve of the road at the foot of 
Twenty-third street, over a Band-hill called 131uckie ; s Bar- 
racks. Lord Stirling iu person led Smallwood's and Ilas- 
lett's regiments up the hills to the left, and placed them in 
posi tion in the woods along the slope, to the top of the ridge. 

The force now opposing Stirling was commanded by 
Gqw. Grant, an officer who, like many other gallant 
gentlemen on cither side, had served with distinction in 
the American campaigns against the French. His expe- 
rience of American soldiership does not seem to have left 
a nattering impression upon his mind; as he once rose in 
his place in Parliament, when American affairs were under 
discussion, and declared that with five thousand British 
troops he would march from one end of the continent to 
the other. In the gallery of the House of Commons, on 
that occasion, sat a spectator who heard these contemptu- 
uous words, and who on this day marshaled a few hundred 
of the militia, so much despised, to meet in battle this proud 

"When forming his troops in line of battle, Lord Stirling 
addressed them, and repeated the bravado which he had 
heard from the lips of the General whom they were about to 
meet. u He may have," added Stirling, " his five thousand 
men with him now; we are not so many, but I think we 
are enough to prevent his advancing further over the con- 
tinent than that mill-pond/' 

Gen. Grant's force consisted of two brigades and one 
regiment, with ten field-pieces. Accompanying his column 
were also two companies of Xew York provincials, 
which had been raised by the exertions of Gov. Trvon, and 


the members of which were now about to imbrue their 
hands in the blood of their countrymen. On the height* i ; 
Gowanus, for the first time in the ^Northern States, Ame- 
ricana were arrayed against each other in battle. Sonic oi 
these, doubtless, were neighbors and former friends oi 
those in the American ranks; who, on the approach of the 
enemy to Long Island, had hastened to array themselves iu 
the invaders' forces. In the roll of infamy winch tradition 
has preserved, the name of Carpenter is prominent, as a 
traitor who guided the enemv through the narrow and 
intricate country roads. Whether this tory-corps was 
commanded by a refugee officer, or by one of foreign birth, 
it is scarcely possible now to learn; and not less obscure 
is the nature of its service on that day. 

Lord Stirling's line at this time formed two sides of a 
triangle, of which the hypothenuse was a line drawn from 
the Flatbush road, near its junction with the Porte road, 
to the shore of the bay, near the foot of Twenty-third 
street. The advanced angle at the centre was yet unpro- 
tected by the two-gun battery which had been ordered up. 
From this point to the shore of Gowanus bay was a dis- 
tance of half a mile, alono: which the front was now 
warmly engaged. The right wins;, restincr on the bay, 
occupied the curving road which has already been de- 
scribed as passing over Bluckie's Barracks. 

The security of this position from an assault in front, 
increased by a salt creek setting up into the land four or 
five hundred i^oi, made it one of no insigniticant strength; 
so that later iu the day the torrent of war sweeping 
around it left it unassailed. From the top of the hills the 
line bent northerly, along the high ground, to near the 


inaction of Fifth avenue and Third street. This part 
of the line was held by reserves — a portion of the Dela- 
ware battalion, and such supporting troops as Putnam 
could spare from, the intrenchments. 

The left wing, it will he seen, occupied a long irregular 
line, in which were breaks of perilous length, of which the 
Hessians later in the day took fatal advantage. In conse- 
quence of the peculiar formation of the line, the extreme 
left wing was nearer to the extreme light than to the centre, 
and when called into action to reinforce the front, actually 
exchanged positions. From this circumstance the accounts 
of the Gowanus battle have been found so conflicting as 
to be almost incomprehensible, and its varying phases can 
only be thus explained. It was in consequence of this 
that a portion of the Delaware battalion met and repulsed 
the advanced squads of the Second British grenadiers on 
the extreme left, near Tenth street and Fifth avenue. 

"While Stirling's line was forming, the enemy advanced 
upon Atlee in such force that, after a sharp conflict, he 
was compelled to retreat a short distance, to Biuckie's 
Barracks, then covered with forest trees. 

At this moment Kichline's riflemen had arrived; and, 
taking position along a hedge at the foot of the hills, they 
opened an effective fire upon the. light troops of the British, 
which occupied the orchard from which Atlee had been 
driven. Opportunely for the enemy, his advance had en- 
abled him to occupy a hedge bordering a stone wall, which 
extended along Stirling's front, a few minutes before Hi eh- 
line's arrival. For two hours, heavy skirmishing conti- 
nued between these light troops, and here, tradition says, 
the enemy met with considerable loss from the American 


rifles. Several of the old inhabitants of Gowanus, v. ho 
visited the battle-ground after the retreat of the Ameri- 
cans, have left their positive testimony upon this point. 

"While Kichline's rifles were repelling the enemy's light 
troops, Capt. Carpenter had, with mueh difficulty, brougl 
two field-pieces into position upon the hill, and opened 
tire upon the enemy's cover. The combined tire of Kich- 
line's rifles, the musketry volleys on the right, and the 
plunging shot from Carpenter's guns, made the position 
so hot. that the British advance was compelled to retreat 
upon the main body, and the orchard was immediately 
re-occupied by Atlee's battalion. 

The British General met this resistance with a fire from 
two guns only, although at one time he advanced a how- 
itzer to within three hundred yards of the right of the 
Americans. Another two-gun battery was sent into the 
woods on their left, where it took up a position about a 
third of a mile distant. Without material change in the 
front of either army, the contest continued for six hours, 
although the enemy outnumbered the Americans five to 
one. It is now known that Gen. Grant had received or- 
ders not to push Stirling's division, but merely to keep it 
in check. The British line of battle in front of that di- 
vision changed but little, therefore, during the morning. 

One of Gen. Grant's brigades was formed in two lines, 
opposite to the American right; and the remainder of his 
force extended, in a single line, through the Greenwood 
Cemetery hills, in front of the rest of Stirling's line. Thus 
ever threatening an advance, but still appearing to warily 
decline it, while exposed to the deadly tire of the Ameri- 
can riflemen, the British General tormented his foe with 


Okie ceasfcless apprehension of an immediate assault. Ko 
warning had yet reached the American commander con- 
cerning the purpose of this threatening hesitation. To us 
looking back upon it, it has a dark and portentous signifi- 
cance, more impressive and awe-inspiring than the fiercest 
shock of battle. That long thin line of Stirling's com- 
mand stood strained and nerved for the mad rush of 
combat, until the very waiting bad fatally exhausted the 
energies of his men. For two long hours succeeding the 
retirement of the enemy's light troops, nothing but the 
exchange of cannon shot at long range had occupied the 
attention of the belligerents, except when the distant roar 
of musketry and field guns told that Gen. Sullivan's troops 
had work in hand. 

Thus stood affairs in this part of the battle-field at 9 
o'clock, a.m., when the thunder of great guns on the bay 
gave notice that a new enemy had arrived upon the scene 
of action, and was adding another element of dread to 
the fast accumulating horrors of the day. The Kocbuck, 
man-of-war, had with great difficulty and labor at length 
crept within range of the redoubt on Red Hook, and a 
combat at once opened between them. 

Admiral Lord Howe had early in the day attempted to 
bring his vessels up th^ bay, into supporting distance; but 
a strong north wind, combining with, the ebb tide, pre- 
vented them from passing more than a mile or two above 
the Karrows. From the mast-head. of the ships the en- 
gagement of Grant's column was plainly visible to their 
crews, and their eagerness to participate in the contest 
was doubtless but little less than that of their Admiral, 
while his anxiety for the success of his brother's move- 


incuts, rendered doubly hazardous fcy the uncertainty o\ 
night attack, was very great. Every effort was therefor* 
made to bring the fleet into a position for taking part i 
the engagement. But Lord Howe, convinced at last of 
the futility of further trial, reluctantly gave the signal to 
come to anchor. 

Had the attempt succeeded, and the terrible broadside? 
of five men-of-war been opened upon the wavering line of 
militia, the contest, which was so soon to terminate in 
slaughter and defeat, would have had a quicker and a still 
bloodier close. Anchored at less than three-fourths of a 
mile .from the scene of conflict, two hundred guns would 
have added their terrors to a battle-field around which so 
dense and fiery a gloom was even now gathering. As the 
morning advanced, the guns of the Roebuck, which had 
led the fleet four or five miles, opened upon the redoubt 
at Red Hook, the artillerymen of which had made several 
efforts to reach her with their long-range cannon. What 
was the effect of their fire upon the Roebuck is not posi- 
tively known; but she could have been only slightlj 
injured, as a few days after she took part, in the attack 
upon the American lines on Manhattan Island. The 
redoubt, however, did not escape uninjured from the fire 
of the Roebuck; as Cols. Mifflin and Grayson, who visited 
it on the next day, found it greatly damaged. 

The roar of ordnance from the little redoubt on Red 
Hook, answered by the thunder of the great guns from the 
decks of the Roebuck, far on the right; the crash of Grant's 
well served artillery in front, gallantly but feebly returned 
by the two-gun battery on Greenwood heights; t\\c per- 
sistent duel between Sullivan's and De Hcister's cannon 


:,iA rifles, which during four hours of combat had not 
changed position on the left — all combined to convince 
Stirling that he was well maintaining his post, and that the 
advance of the enemy was everywhere checked. Between 
10 and 11 o'clock an incident occurred, however, which, 
had he been fully informed of the character of the enemy's 
troops engaged, should have awakened distrust. 

The Delaware battalion, under Colonel Haslett, com- 
posed largely of raw Irishmen who had still to be taught 
how to load a musket, had remained in reserve on the 
left of Stirling's line, near the Porte road. At 11 o'clock 
they were ordered to the front, to reinforce the centre and 
left, now becoming weak and thin under the fire of five 
times their number for nearly six hours. At this time 
Admiral Howe was reinforcing Grant with two thousand 
men, landed from boats in Bonnet's Cove ; and it was to re- 
sist their attack that the Delaware reserve was ordered up. 

Detachments from De Heister's column, which had. 
been pushed forward through the wood from the hills near 
the Porte road, with the intention of forming a junction 
with Grant, whose position was readily ascertained by the 
firing, encountered the left of the Delaware battalion near 
Tenth street and Fourth Avenue, at about the same time 
that the British were landing from the boats. One of these 
detachments, commanded by Capt. "W ragg, mistaking the 
Delaware soldiers for Hessian troops, and approaching so 
near as to be incapable of retreat, surrendered. 

Lieut. Popham was detached with a guard to convey 
the prisoners to the lines; and he graphically describes his 
march from the high ground to the salt meadow, and his 
passage across the mouth of Gowauus creek, in silk stock- 


ings and small clothes. lie and bis prisoners narrow lv 
escaped from drowning*, in the deep mud and water; and, 
to heighten the danger, the enemy, discovering the move- 
ment, opened upon them a fire from a two-gun battery on 
the hills. The British Captain, hoping from this circum- 
stance that a rescue would be effected, paused in the 
middle of the creek; but he relinquished his hopes on 
being informed by Popham that lie would be instantly 
put to death should he attempt an escape. The gallant 
young Lieutenant would not relinquish the British officers, 
and their accoutrements, although sinking in the mud and 
Water, and had the good fortune to arrive safely in the 
lines with his prisoners. 

This incident, of "Wragg's capture, was occasioned by 
an order from the Colonel of the Second British grenadiers, 
which had received several severe fires from the Dela- 
ware battalion without returning them, as its blue uni- 
form, faced with red, very nearly resembled the Hessian 
dress. Capt. "YTragg was despatched to inform the sup- 
posed German corps of its mistake. Before the fatal 
error was discovered, the grenadiers had lost several offi- 
cers and men ; but they were able soon afterward to obtain 
their revenge, by attacking and dispersing this small and 
untrained detachment. 

While Stirling and Grant are parrying or receiving 
blows, and the Roebuck menaces the Red Hook redoubt, 
let us turn to another portion of the field, on the JPlatbush 
hills, where sunrise had found Sullivan in arms awaiting 
his Hessian foe. The morning which broke upon the 
scene disclosed no change in the position of the enemy. 
For five mornings had Sullivan's detachment awaited the 


shock of battle; and the long mid-summer days had waned 

and closed without its coming. But on this, indications of 
it; nearness made every soldier conscious that the sun of 
that day would uot set on a bloodless field. During the 
night the rattle of a skirmish iire had occasionally been 
heard* two or three miles away upon the right, somewhere 
near the Red Lion Tavern. The head of the enemy's 
column was doubtless feeling its way into the lines in that 
direction; but as the pattering fire approaching no nearer, 
the soldiers thought " Old Put " was probably holding the 
attacking force in check, xls the sun crept above the 
horizon, the scattering, irregular discharges from the 
Greenwood heights had grown in volume into heavy and 
regular volleys, to which soon after w r as added the boom of 
cannon. Meantime, ominous movements in the plain 
below indicated that Sullivan's men would not long be 
idle. As the vast camp of the enemy came clearly into 
view, no indications appeared of the absence from it of 
eight thousand troops, and no thought of a movement so 
threatening as this vacancy would have revealed seems to 
have crossed the mind of officer or private. 

It was not long before the movement of Gen. Be Heis- 
ter's command left no room for doubt of his intentions. 
The hour had arrived for his assault; and, presently, long 
columns of the German troops were seen forming in the 
streets and fields of Flatbush. The yagers deployed 
right and left of the Brooklyn road as skirmishers, and 
the grenadiers were pushed forward to support them. In 
the centre of the advance several pieces of artillery took 
position, and at the distance of half a mile opened iire 
upon the American lines, Here I)e Heister's main column 


halted, as if awaiting further preparations for the assault; 
and his martinet subordinates dressed their companies in 
line, as if upon drill parade. The ardor of Col. Donop 
was too great for endurance of this long delay, of the 
important significance of which the Hessian subordinate-, 
as well as the Americans, were probably entirely igno- 
rant. Col. Donop solicited and obtained permission from 
General De Heister to lead forward the sharpshooters and 
grenadiers. The fame of this brave officer is clouded by 
the atrocities of this day, which he sanctioned by his 
presence, if he did not even command their perpetration. 
The latter has been charged, and never denied. Fate 
pursued him to Fort Mtffin and Bed Bank, where, a year 
afterwards, he fell a victim to his own cruelty, having an- 
nounced to the garrison that if they resisted his assault no 
quarter would be granted. 

His eagerness on this occasion was not permitted to 
thwart the plans of Geu. Howe, whose orders to Gen. De 
Heister were peremptory that the Americans must not be 
pressed, until the flanking column of Sir Henry Clinton 
had given the preconcerted signal that he had cut the line 
of their communications with the intrenchments. Col. 
Donop was therefore not permitted at this time to press the 
American riflemen further than to the edge of the woods, 
where a sharp skirmish, at medium rifle-range, was kept 
up for nearly two hours. In the meantime the guns of the 
redoubt were replying to De Heister's cannon, although 
their small calibre, and probably inefficient service, per- 
mitted them to be of but little use. 

It was already 9 o'clock, when a sound was heard that 
carried dismay into the ranks of the harassed American 


troops. Above the spattering fire of rifle shots, and the 
roar of light field-pieces, was heard the booming of two 
heavy guns, far in the rear, proceeding from a point near 
the junction of the Flatbusb and Bedford roads. 

The appalling fact that the enemy had turned the 
American flank, and was now pressing upon their rear, 
became more evident when the bands of De Heister burst 
forth into the wildest strains of martial music; and, in an 
instant, his heavy columns, so long repressed, wheeled 
right and left into line of battle, and pushed steadily for- 
ward. The long inaction was over. The mystery which 
had masked this ever-threatening yet ever delayed assault 
was suddenly cleared away. Gen Sullivan, whose anxiety 
to pierce it could no longer be restrained, had, not long 
before, at the head of four hundred men, pushed forward 
on a reconuoissance. Unfortunately for us at this day, this 
gallant General, in his brief account of his misfortune, 
made long after to Congress, was more anxious to in- 
culpate Gen. Putnam than to render a careful report of 
the changing aspects of that fatal field. Embittered by 
the elevation of Putnam to the chief command, as his 
own letters fully attest, he exhibited a petty resentment 
for which nothing but his self-devoted courage could 
atone. "What were the direction and purpose of his recon- 
noissance we can now only conjecture. The fact that his 
left was more open to attack, not only from the isolation 
of those regiments which formed it, but from his belief 
that the extension of Stirling's left gave complete security 
to the other portion of his line, renders it nearly certain 
that his reconuoissance was made to the east of the centre, 
along the slope of the hills in front of his lines. The 


period chosen for the movement was most unfortunate; :,- 
twelve thousand of the enemy's troops were closing around 
his little army, separated, by an impassable cordon, from 
its leader, and from its lines of retreat. 

Col. Donop, at the head of the Hessian riflemen and 
grenadiers, now dashed forward to the south of the Porte 
road, and entered the woods, driving the American rifle- 
men before him, from the logs, or clumps of trees and 
thickets, behind which they had lain concealed. These 
slight covers were immediately occupied by the yagers, 
who had been instructed to imitate the American tactics 
of irregular skirmishers;. and, accordingly, after delivering 
tHeir fire from such points as offered concealment or pro- 
tection, these active troops sprang rapidly forward to 
similar covers in advance. The grenadiers, with fixed 
bayonets, followed close behind, in well-dressed lines, 
which they were as solicitous to preserve, while they 
charged through the thick woods, as if they had been 
upon parade. 

The advanced riflemen of Sullivan were thus soon driven 
in upon the main body, now greatly weakened by the with- 
drawal of the four hundred men engaged in the General 8 

jSTearly five hours of conflict, less sanguinary than 
they had been exhausting, had now elapsed ; and during 
this time the overwhelming force of the enemy, whose 
progress we have previously traced, had, as we have shown, 
unconsciously to the Americans, gathered upon their rear 
and flanks. 

Sir Henry Clinton's and Cornwallis' massive columns, 
more than three times outnumbering their opponents, had 


marched from Bedford to the junction of the Flatbush and 
Jamaica roads, across which they had pushed their ad- 
niuce guards. The British line, therefore, now stretched 
for nearly two miles between these points, at the distance 
of half a mile from the rear of the Americans, who, by this 
silent and masterly movement, had been fatally inclosed 
within the encompassing folds. The advance guard — tho- 
roughly iu formed by the loyalists, who had escaped to 
Staten Island and now accompanied the column, of every 
wood-road, by-path, and farm-lane — advanced with almost 
the rapidity and secrecy of Indian warriors, inclosing the 
outposts with a force which rendered resistance useless, 
even where it continued to be possible. 

Every step of the movement was performed with the 
coolness and deliberation of the parade-ground; and, as 
each emergency had been contemplated, it was already 
half disarmed of its danger. 1 

The air was still vibrating with the boom of the signal 
guns, when the British troops in the American rear sprang 
forward to the charge. The light troops, the stragglers, 
the wounded, the rear-guard, and all the mob which hovers 
in the rear of battle, were swept away like chaff before 
the tornado. On the extreme left, near Bedford, a heavy 
body of men was pushed forward to cut the American 
lines at the Clove road. 

. The important task of occupying and guarding the 
range of hills from this point to the Jamaica road had 
been intrusted, as we have seen, to Col. Miles. In addi- 

1 When it is recolk'Cit.d that it was n marked characteristic of our Dutch citi- 
zens to be thoroughly inde}»eiiden.t, even in tilings of such common necessity 
as wagon roads, and that every farm had its own private lane, bounded often 

o f 


lion to his regiment of Pennsylvanians, he had been rein. 
forced by some of the Kings County militia; and tin ii 
defection may have increased the carnage of this fatal daw 

Scarcely ten minutes could have "been occupied in tin 
short march before the American lines were pierced, and 
Colonel Miles 5 men were flying in the wildest panic and 
dismay. What desperate efforts for defense, what gallant 
though unavailing self-devotion, were exhibited, we know- 
only from tradition; but that some were shamefully neg- 
ligent is too painfully certain. That Colonel Miles was 
completely surprised, by an enemy who had for six hours 
been marching in his rear, is not susceptible of denial or 
doubt; though he procured a statement to be credited foi 
the time, that he had fought so bravely and persistently as t< > 
break a passage through, the enemy's lines, bv which great 
numbers of his men were able to escape. His reliance 
upon the fidelity of the Kings County militia may have 
led him into a fatal confidence. But the heavy firing vi\ 
his right, which told him that his comrades were engaged 
with the enemy, should have made him circumspect and 
wary regarding his own position. 

On all sides the enemy was now closing around the fee- 
ble bands. Vast masses of fresh troops stretched far be- 
yond their flanks on front and rear. The whole line of I '• 
Heister's army was advancing, in three divisions, preserving 

their Old World forms, and severity of drill tactics, with 

the utmost exactness, even in these American forests. 

With drums and fifes sounding the charge, and regimental 

by dykes or stonewalls, overgrown with thickets and wild vines, it is 

to comprehend how a foe could make such stealthy approaches, esjx'eiitUy 

when conducted by some of the proprietors of those lane-skirted farms. 


colors flying, while the rebel battery was firing upon tliem 
a! .short range, and the whole force of American riflemen 
and infantry was engaged, the Hessian line was regularly 

halted, at short distances, and re-formed, before it was per- 
mitted to advance. There was a terrible intrepidity in 
this foppish precision which was not without its effect upon 
the A mericans. Overwhelmed by the numbers and the dis- 
cipline of the foe, their redoubt was entered, and the weak 
line of fortifications was carried at the point of the bayonet. 
The rifles of the Americans were no longer of use ; the 
length of time required to ram down the well-patched 
ball permitted the opportunity of only two or three shots 
before the enemy had closed upon them; and, in the im- 
petuous onset of a charge, a clubbed rifle was a poor 
defense against a dozen bayonets. Many of the brave 
fellows fell in the intrenchments, the Hessians in several 
instances pinning them to the trees. 1 It was no longer 
a battle; it was a rout, and a massacre. Squads of the 
Americans retired rapidly in the direction of the Bedford 
road, but only to be met by the advancing columns of 
Clinton's and Cornwallis's troops. 

"Warned by the heavy firing in their rear that their posi- 
tion had been turned, the troops of the two regiments, on the 
extreme left of Sullivan's line, came hurrying forward to 
retreat by the same road ; and they were met by the fugi- 
tives of the right, retiring from CornwalhV front. 

De Heister's troops had paused on the summit of the 
hill, and here, he says, they again formed in line, as if upon 

'The Hessian Col. Von Heeringen, makes this statement, explicitly 
enough, in his letter to Col. Von Lossberg; "The enemy was covered by 
almost impenetrable brush wood, lines of abatis, and redoubts. The greater 


parade. The grenadiers, and skirmishers, who had driv. n 
the rebel enemy from his lines, were the only troops wli i 
had really been in action. The regiments in the rear Lad 
mounted the hill with shouldered muskets, drag£riiJL r tin ir 
cannon with them to the abandoned line of intrenchments. 

Colonel Donop and Captain "Wreden were still pushin - 
forward their skirmishers on the left; hut they were now 
met by the three regiments of Americans, broken by tl 
onset of Cornwallis' brigades, which had advanced aloiiL r a 
line reaching from the present intersection of Flatbush 
and Fulton avenues half way to Bedford. Though 
broken into a flvin£r mob, the Americans had not ceased 
to fight. The malignant passions of both armies had been 
inflamed against each other bv the most crafty and fatal 
falsehoods. The credulous and kindly Germans, by the 
art of the British oificers, as the letters of these frankh 
avow, had been led to believe that the American soldier 
Was an implacable and savage warrior, who never gave or 
accepted quarter. The latter had also been led to believe 
bis Hessian antagonist a brutal and inhuman wretch, 
whom it was necessary, for his own safety, to put to death. 1 

Gen. Sullivan had hastened to return, as soon as the 
sound of firing announced the opening of the conflict; bur. 

part of the riflemen were pierced ta the trees with bayonets. These dreadful 

. . - rathei to be ; itied than feared. They always require a q 
of an hoar to load a rifle, and in the moan time they feel tie' effects "'.'•• ■ '-' 
balld :ui«i bayonets." — Elk-tug's Auxiliaries in America. Document 40. 

1 "• The lI-->.-dans and our brave Highlanders gave no quarter, and it •• 
fin sight to see with what alacrity they dispatched the rebels with theii 
bayonets, after we had surrounded them so that they could not resist. 

" We took care to tell the Hessians that the rebels had resolved to <rive no 
cjuarter to them in particular; which made them fight desperately, ami 
put all to death who fell into their hands." — Extract from aletU rfr&tn uu 
officer in Fraser's battalion. Document 32. 


fouling himself eat off from the main body, lie was now 
fighting vigorously, but despairingly, the troops in front 
of him. Gen. l)e Heister says that Sullivan attempted to 
reinforce Col. Heard, who commanded the riflemen on the 
American left, and who had been driven back by Col. 
Donop's yagers and grenadiers ; but this is scarcely possi- 
ble, from the intervention of almost the whole Hessian 
division between him and Heard's position. 

Driven out from the woods upon the open plain, in 
groups of fifty or sixty, and in full view of the troops 
which garrisoned the forts, the flying Americans were 
met by squadrons of British dragoons, followed by columns 
of infantry, which completely blocked their line of retreat. 
Hurled back again upon the Hessian line by the dragoon 
charges which smote and crushed them, without discipline, 
or officers who could restore it, exposed to equal lines of 
fire in front and rear, many of these detached squads 
attempted to surrender, flinging down their arms, or 
reversing them, to indicate submission ; but they were in- 
closed by an infuriated enemy, indifferent to these to- 
kens of surrender, and were inhumanly cut to pieces. 1 

Entire battalions of the Hessians rushed at the bayonet 
charge upon some of these groups of unarmed men, and 
never paused, witli thrust and shot, while one of them 
remained alive. The cry for quarter, General J)e Heister 
says, was, in many instances, entirely unheeded by either 
German or English soldiers. Indeed, he says, the British 

'An officer of hijjdi rank in the British army says in a letter: "The Ame- 
ricans fought manfully, and, to do them justice, could not be broken till tliey 
were outnumbered, and taken in flank, front and rear. 

" We tr ( ; , greatly slioeked at the massacre made by the Hessians aiai ]ll>jh- 
lenders, after victory was decided." 


soldier was quite as sanguinary and inhuman as Lis Saxon 
or Hessian comrade, and constantly incited these to grant 
no quarter. An appalling massacre thus closed the com- 
bat, over whose incidents a veil has been drawn which 
history has never been able to remove. The battle-field had 
become a scene of awful terror and flight upon the one 
side, and of resistless assault and merciless slaughter upon 
the other. 

In some parts of the field, however, despair aroused the 
routed Americans to an energy and activity which cost 
the euemy the loss of many soldiers before they themselves 
sank in death. Groups of militia fought here and there 
amid the woods, surrounded bv overwhelming masses 
of the enemy, whom they madly struggled to reach with 
sword and bayonet, until, one by one, they fell beneath 
the weight of the terrible odds. Taught by the merciless 
massacre of their comrades, who had attempted to sur- 
render, they no longer implored life at the hands of the 
implacable foes who surrounded them. 

There is no incident of the battle better attested than the 
massacre on the ground lying between Washington ave- 
nue and Third street. Gen. Do Ileister admits the truth 
of these atrocities, by attempting their palliation. Colonel 
"\ on Heeringen circumstantially narrates their incidents, 
in a letter to his friend Col. Yon Lossberg. 1 The Hessian 
General attributes the massacre to the fierce resistance of 
a portion of a Pennsylvania regiment, after the Hessians 

1 Col. Von Heeringen, a Hessian officer in command on this day, Fays in 
this letter : 

"The English soldiers did not give much quarter, and constantly excited 
our men to do the siune." — Etking'sAuxilaries in America. Document 40. 


deemed its position incapable of defense. These unfor- 
tunate provincials had never learned the mysteries of that 
German military etiquette, which so nicely determines the 
time when it is proper to surrender. And a Hessian lieu- 
tenant says truly, in a letter of the time, that the Americans 
fought with halters around their necks, as they expected 
io he hung as rebels if they were captured. Elking nar- 
rates the rumors of the massacre which prevailed, with- 
out attempting to refute them. He states that many of 
the wounded Americans were bayoneted, while lying 
upon the ground and begging for quarter; and that it 
was reported that nearly two thousand Americans had 
been pitilessly put to death. This great exaggeration 
of the number slain does not disprove the alleged crime, 
nor does he attempt its refutation; but admits that the 
Hessians were greatly exasperated, and that, under the ex- 
citement, they perpetrated atrocities. 

Lieut. Fitch, an officer of one of the Connecticut regi- 
ments, who was taken prisoner on the 27th, near Gowanus, 
has left a manuscript journal, 1 in which he gives a very 
curious and interesting detail of matters in relation to his 
own captivity. He says that his treatment by the British 
infantry, to whom he was a prisoner, was not specially se- 
vere, except in the matter of verbal insults; while the 
universal assertion of those who had been captured by the 
Hessians, testified to brutal and inhuman treatment re- 
ceived from them. Not only were the prisoners robbed 
of money, and valuables, but often of their clothes. One 
after another of the German soldiers stripped American 

'In the possession of Mr. Charles I. Buslmell, of New York. 


officers and soldiers of their various garments, until many 
pf them were left standing entirely naked. This robberv 
was permitted, if not countenanced, by their officers ; who 

seemed to look upon the plunder as the legitimate prize of 
war. The English soldiers, on the other hand, though pro- 
fuse in verbal abuse, in no instance offered personal violence 
to their prisoners, or attempted robbery of their effects. 
Soon after the prisoners taken by the Hessians began to 
arrive, an American corporal, whose name Fitch mention.-, 
was brought in with a bayonet wound in his bowels, ami 
another in his breast, both of which he solemnly averred 
that lie had received after surrender. His wounds were 
kindly dressed by an English surgeon, who treated him 
civilly; but he complained for two days of terrible suffer- 
ing, and at the end of that time died. Another prisoner 
was brought in, badly wounded in his thighs; and although 
his wounds healed, yet he perished a few months after, o\ 
starvation and disease, on board of one of the deadly 
prison ships. Lieut. Fitch states that a prisoner, with whom 
lie was acquainted, was brought before Gen. De Heister 
himself, who became greatly enraged against lain for some 
offense, probablv for refusing to answer his questions 
regarding the American forces. The Hessian General, in 
a burst of passion, seized his prisoner by the hair, shaking 
him violently, and belaboring him stoutly with hearty 

Gen. Sullivan maintained his unequal contest for two 
hours, but, cut off from retreat, or connection with the main 
body, he was compelled to surrender. At what part of the 
field, or even at what hour of the day, this took place, we 
have nothing on record to afford us' any light. At 11 


o'clock, a. M., the contest on the hills had nearly closed. A 
lew squads had broken through the dense lines of the Bri- 
tish by desperate lighting, and reached the fortifications. 
Others lied along the hills, and hid themselves in swamps 
and thickets; from which many of them were routed and cap- 
tured after the battle, while some, more fortunate, escaped. 
Considerable bodies of the fugitive troops had fought their 
way through Colonel Donop's line of skirmishers, across 
the Porte road, to the neighborhood of the Cortelyou 
house. Pursued closely by Cornwallis and the Hessians, 
now pouring upon them by the Porte road, they fled across 
the meadows to the creek. The Hessian riflemen spread 
along the hills towards Stirling's left; while the victorious 
troops of the British right wing closed in by columns over 
the scene of the late massacre. 

Col. Miles, surprised in his camp by the enemy, as we 
have before seen, had been compelled to suffer the misfor- 
tune of beholding his command cut to pieces or captured, 
and of being himself, with every officer of his regiment, 
taken prisoner. He was compelled ever after to bear the 
taunt of having been the cause of the defeat of the day, 
although he contrived to procure the mention of his name 
with praise for his gallant resistance. He was undoubtedly 
so far to blame that nothing but the hazardous position 
of the American army for many weeks afterward, with the 
irregularity and confusion of both military and civil au- 
thority, prevented his trial for gross neglect of duty. And 
for such he should, if convicted, have suffered death. 

As the communication with the fortified lines was now 
completely severed, by the interposition of heavy masses 
of the British troops, no other route of escape was pos- 


sible than through the narrow strip df woods lying bcttreen 
the Porte road and the salt meadows. This, too, v 
occupied by the light troops of the Hessian column; but 
the impetuosity of the despairing survivors of the massa- 
cre carried them through Donop's thin skirmish line, and 
the fugitives were now pouring through the roads in tin 
neighborhood of the Porte road, across the narrow pass 
overFreeke/s mill-dam. Thronged with the flying crowd 
of men, this remnant of an army, already shattered in the 
awful crash of battle, had there another horror added to 
its fate. The Hessian guns, which, with German tenacity, 
they hod dragged along their route through the wood.-, 
hurried into position upon the hills near Xinth avenvn-. 
were soon hurling their balls into the dense masses of 
fugitives that crowded the dam. To escape this plunging 
fire, great numbers of the flying soldiers diverged to the 
south, and attempted to retreat across the creeks and mill- 
dams. As we are left in ignorance of the total number 
of our soldiers engaged in this battle under Sullivan, we 
can only conjecture, from vague allusions in the journ 
of the day, what proportion of the Americans effected an 
eseape in this manner. Many were shot, while struggling 
tit rough the mud and water, and it is not improbable that 
some were drowned; but local traditions do not corrobo- 
rate the statements regarding the extent of the loss of life 
incurred in this manner, which were current at the time. 

Thus, at 11 o'clock, on this fatal day, the broken and fly- 
ing remnants of Sullivan's division had melted away, 
before the fierceness of the British assault and the Hessian 
massacre. Along the space of ground included between 
"Washington avenue and Third street, the low ground in 


the neighborhood of Greene and Fourth avenues, and the 
heights overlooking Flatbush, lay the bodies of neatly one 
thousand men, slain in the shock of battle, or by subse- 
quent murder. A few hundreds of the Americans were 
cither Jiving through the morasses and thickets, or, per- 
mitted by some caprice of mercy to surrender, were now 
prisoners of war. 

An instance of individual bravery, allied to desperation, 
was exhibited on this day by a private in a Massachusetts 
regiment, named John Callender. His history affords a 
most extraordinary example of fortitude under a crushing 
misfortune, and of a self-devotion which seemed ecpially 
stimulated by courage and despair. At the battle of 
Bunker Hill, several of the farmer-soldiers who had been 
elected by their neighbors to the command of a company, 
and who there for the first time saw the carnage of battle, 
yielded to a natural human shrinking from its horrors. 
Among those who were denounced as cowards by the 
enraged Putnam was Capt. John Callender, who had com- 
manded one of the companies of artillery. Putnam raved 
through the camp at Roxbury like a madman, declaring 
at head-quarters that he would leave the service unless 
Callender was cashiered, or shot. His ferocity blinded 
him to the noble qualities in the possession of which Capt. 
Callender was greatly the superior of his accuser; and 
a committee of Congress, appointed to inquire into the 
truth of the report that some officers had been guilty of 
misconduct, yielded to the vehemence of Gen. Putnam, 
and reported in favor of submitting the inquiry to a Court 
Martial. By that tribunal the accused was found guilty of 
cowardice in battle, and sentenced to be cashiered. Wash- 


iugton approved the sentence "not only from the particu- 
lar guilt of Capt. Callender, but from the fatal consequences 
of such conduct to the army, and to the cause of America 
in general." l 

The sincere patriotism of this brave and heroic man was 
not chilled by his misfortune, or the terrible severity of hid 
punishment. Scoffed at as a coward by the whole army, 
he was too honest to avenge the outrage by becoming a 
traitor; and when he had been stripped of his epaulets, he 
stepped quietly into the ranks of his corps, to serve as a 
private where he had once commanded. 

On the 27th of August, private John Callender once 
more faced the enemy, before whom, his cheek had once 
paled with momentary apprehension. On the heights of 
Brooklyn he found his opportunity. The Captain and 
Lieutenant of the battery had fallen, and the whole army 
was retreating around him. His firm soul had already 
passed through the fierce trial and humiliation of fear, 
and death itself was now less dreadful to him. "Without a 
moment's hesitation, he sprang to the front of his wavering 
comrades, and, with the tone of authority which every brave 
man naturally assumes, took command of the battery, re- 
called the retreating artillerymen, and fought his pieces, 
until the enemy charged upon them, and swept away his 
men in their tremendous onset. It is evident that the heroic 
and despairing man had determined to perish on the 

1 Sweet says that it was the furious denunciation of Putnam which aided 
iu producing this result. 'Die committee of Congress reported that they 
had inquired of Gen. Putnam, who Lad informed them that he would quit 
the service, if these officers, Capt. Senrish and Capt. Callender, were not 
made an example of, and that one of them ought to be shot. — Xicat's III* 
tori/ of the Bunker Hill Battle. 


buttlc-lMcl ; for he disdained to fly, and was still charging his 
jams, when the British bayonets were raised to be plunged 
into his body. The chivalrous daring and undaunted air 
of the man had, however, excited the admiration of a gene- 
rous British oiiieer, and at the last moment he interfered, 
and saved the life of his brave enemy. He remained for over 
a year a prisoner in the hands of the invaders; but Wash- 
ington had hastened, on the report of his conduct in the 
battle of Long Island, to atone for the indignities under 
which he had suffered. His heroism had won for him the 
esteem of his enemies. It would have been the greatest 
injustice, if it had not restored him to that of his friends. 
Washington, accordingly, ordered the sentence to be erased 
from the order book, and directed the restoration of his 
commission. After his release, a more signal recognition 
of the injustice of his sentence, and of his own noble con- 
duct, was made; for Washington, to mark his approbation, 
gave Captain Calender his hand, and tendered him his 
cordial thanks for his services. 1 

It was nearly 10 o'clock when the information of the rout 
of the left and the centre was first communicated to Lord 
Stirling. His left wing w r as already recoiling back upon 
his centre, when the news of the enemy's successes 

1 As late as Sept. 15, 1777, Callender's wife addressed a touching- petition to 
the government of Massachusetts, in his behalf. " Your petitioner/' says 
she, "with four helpless infants, is now, through the distress of a kind and 
loving husband, and a tender and affectionate parent, reduced to a state of 
misery anal wretchedness and want truly pbiable." 

" Her devotion had found a way of relief by an exchange, and it was suc- 
cessful." — Fi'othihgham's Siege of Boston. 

Capt. Callender held his commission during the war, and left the service 
at the return of peace, with the highest honor and reputation. — Col. S. Siceel's 
Bkt. of Bottle of Banker Mill. 


reached him. The capture of Capt. Wragg and his grena- 
diers, who had pressed some distance in advance of Corn- 
wallis' column, should have informed him before, as v. 
have said, of the danger of his position. 

It may here be stated that the manner. in which tta 
capture of Wragg's command had been effected by thi 
Americans enraged the British, who pretended to see i'u 
the accidental similarity of uniform a treacherous design. 
The affair of shooting or capturing the soldiers of an 
enemy, who had approached with the idea of meeting 
friends, was styled treachery, and furnished a pretext for 
succeeding atrocities. Indeed, so eagerly have the British 
writers endeavored to palliate the cruelty of this day*.- 
slaughter, that they have seized upon the incident of Cap- 
tain Wragg's capture to justify all the massacres perpe- 
trated on the battle-field. 

Fired with a common emulation of slaughter, Hes- 
sian and British troops were now pressing forward, to 
inclose Stirling's division between them and Grant, in the 
same fatal embrace which had crushed the life out of 
Sullivan's corps. The right wing of the enemy, com- 
manded by Lord Cornwallis in person, was hastening for- 
ward, to occupy the junction of the Porte and Gowanus roads. 
Cornwallis had proceeded as far as the Cortelyou house, 
which is, beyond a doubt, the dwelling sometimes spoken 
of as a ' stone ' and sometimes as a ' brick ' house, of both of 
which, materials it is constructed. This house Cornwall'- 
proceeded at once to occupy as a redoubt. It thus 
became apparent to Lord Stirling that his position was no 
longer defensible. What an appalling change from the 
confidence and elation of an hour before! 



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The gigantic extent, and the consummate skill, of the 
British combination, was apparentto the General ataglance. 
The noble soul of the generous soldier at once impelled 
him to the great sacrifice, which, at such an hour, is all 
that is left for a defeated commander. The onset of the 
victorious foe must be checked, while his retreating col- 
umns toiled through the salt marshes, and across the deep 
tide-water creek, in their rear. To the heroic mind of 
Stirling there was no necessity for reflection upon the 
decision. In such minds instinct is a safer guide than is 
the maturest judgment in others. The decision is a species 
of inspiration. Fortunately for his purpose, the noblest 
instruments for his design were at hand. 

The Maryland regiment, now commanded by Major 
Guest, some portions of which had, from the peculiar forma- 
tion of Stirling's line, fought on the right wine:, although 
part of the left, was still nearly intact, and was burning with 
patriotism, and the desire of distinction. This body of 
young men, sons of the best families of Catholic Maryland, 
had been emulous of the praise of being the best drilled 
and disciplined of the [Revolutionary forces ; and their high 
spirit, their courage, their self-devotion, as well as the dis- 
cipline of which they were proud, were now to be proved in 
the fierce furnace of battle. F-linsjitiff himself at the head 
of these brave lads, who on that clay for the first time saw 
the flash of an enemy's guns, Stirling determined to stem 
the advance of the foe. 1 

The little band, now hardly numbering; four hundred 
men, prepared for an assault upon five times their number, 

1 Lord Stirling says, in his letter of A-ngnst 00, to Washington : " In order 
to render the escape of the main body across the creek more practicable, 1 


of the Lest troops of the invading army, who were in- 
flamed with all the arrogance of successful comhat. 

Forming, hurriedly, on ground in the vicinity of Fifth 
avenue and Tenth street, the light column advanced along 
the Gowanus road into the jaws of battle, with unwaver- 
ing front. Artillery ploughed their fast-thinning rank-, 
with the awful bolts of war; infantry poured its volleys of 
musket-balls, in almost solid sheets of lead upon them ; 
and, from the adjacent hills, the deadly Hessian yagers 
sent swift messengers of death into many a manly form. 
Still, above the roar of cannon, musketry, and rifles, was 
heard the shout of their brave leaders, " Close up ! Close 
up!" and again the staggering yet unflinching files, grown 
fearfully thin, drew together, and turned their stern young 
feces to their country's foe. 

At the head of this devoted band marched their Gene- 
ral, to whom even victory had now become less important 
than an honorable death which might purchase the sale 
retreat of his army. Amid all the terrible carnage of the 
hour there was no hurry, no confusion, only a grim de- 
spair, which their courage and self-devotion dignified 
into martyrdom. 

The. advanced bodies of the enemy were driven back 
upon the Cortelyou house — now become a formidable re- 
doubt — from the windows of which the leaden hail thinned 
the patriot ranks as they approached. Lord Cornwallis 
hurriedly brought two guns into position, near one corner 

found it absolutely accessary to attack a body of troops commanded by Lord 
Cornwallis, posted at the house near the Upper Mills, which I instantly did, 
with about half of Smallwooefs regiment, first ordering all the other troops 
to make the best of their way across the creek." 


oi" the, and added their canister and grape to the 
tempest of death. 

At last the little column halted, powerless to advance, in 
the face of this murderous fire, yet disdaining to retreat 
with the disgrace of a flight. Again and again these self- 
devoted heroes closed their ranks over the bodies of their 
dc-ad comrades, and still turned their faces to the foe. 
But the limit of human endurance had for the time been 
reached, and the shattered column was driven back. Their 
task was not, however, yet fully performed. 

As Stirling looked across the salt meadows, away 
to the scene of his late struggle at Bluckie's Barracks, 
and saw the confused masses of his countrymen crowd- 
ing the narrow causeway over Freeke's mill-pond, or 
struggling through the muddy tide-stream, he felt how- 
precious to their country's liberty were the lives of his 
retreating soldiers ; and again he nerved himself for a 
combat which he knew could only prove a sacrifice. 
Once more he called upon the survivors of the previous 
dreadful assault, and again the noble young men gathered 
around their General. 

How sadly he must have looked upon them— scarcely 
more than boys — so young, so brave, and to meet again 
the pitiless iron hail ! 

The impetus and spirit of this charge carried the batta- 
lion over every obstacle, quite to the house. The gunners 
were driven from their battery, and Cornwallis seemed 
about to abandon the position; but the galling fire from 
the interior of the house, and from the adjacent high 
ground, with the overwhelming numbers of the enemy 
who were now approaching, again compelled a retreat. 


Throe times more the survivors rallied, flinging them- 
selves upon the constantly reinforced ranks of the enemy : 

but the combat, so long and so unequally sustained, was 
now hastening to its close. A few minutes more of this 
destroying fire, and two hundred and fifty-six of the noble 
youth of Maryland were either prisoners in the hands i I 
the enemy, or lay side by side in that awful mass of dead 
and dying. The sacrifice had been accomplished, and the 
flying army had been saved from complete destruction. 
Amid the carnage Stirling was left almost alone, and, 
scorning to yield himself to a British subject, he sought 
the Hessian General De lleister, and only to him would he 
surrender Lis sword. 

On the conical hill, within the American lines, stood 
the Commander-in-Chief, Gen. \Yashington : and, as he 
witnessed the assault, the repulse, and the massacre, he 
exclaimed in agony of heart, "Great God! what must 
my brave boys suffer to-day." 1 From the eminence on 
which he stood the termination of the last struggle of 
the brave Mary landers was plainly and painfull v visible 
to him. 

On the shore of Gowanus Bay sleep the remains of this 
noble hand. They were buried on the farm of Adrian Van 
JBrunt, who, it is said, consecrated the spot for the sacred 
deposit; so that, while occupied by him, the plough and 
the axe never desecrated it. Out upon the broad surface 
of the level marsh rose a little island of dry ground, then 
and long after covered with trees and undergrowth. 

*Tbis height upon which Washington stood was crowned by a redoubt, 
and occupied the block now bounded by Court, Clinton, Atlantic, and Pacific 


Around this little mound, scarcely an aero in extent, clus- 
tered a few of the survivors of the fatal field and of 
the remorseless swamp, and here the heroic dead were 
brought, and laid beneath its sod, after the storm of battle 
Had swept by. Tradition says that all the dead of the 
Maryland and Delaware battalions who fell on and near 
the meadow, were buried in this miniature island, which 
promised at that day the seclusion and sacred quiet which 
befit the resting place of the heroic dead. Third avenue 
intersects the westerly end of the mound; and Seventh 
and Eighth streets indicate two of its sides. 

The grade of these streets carries them much above the 
highest part of this burial mound ; and now, far below the 
present surface, mingled with, the remains of the servile 
sons of Africa whose burial ground it also was, lies the 
dust, of those brave boys who found death easier than 
flight, and gave their lives to save their countrymen. 

The very dust of those streets is sacred. And our busy 
hum of commerce, our grading of city lots, our specula- 
tions in houses reared on the scenes of such noble valor, 
and over the mouldering forms of these young heroes, 
seem almost sacrilege. Rebel tongues have chanted the 
refrain of " Maryland, my Maryland ; " but they cannot rob 
the nation of the sad sweet thought: ' She is Maryland, oar 
Maryland.' Her dead on the field of battle are our dead. 
Her fame and her glory are our pride and our rejoicing. 1 

1 Col. Smallwood has been understood to say, in his letter of Oct. 12, that 
the Marylanders lost two hundred and fifty-six men; but in his subsequent 
communications he makes no mention of tho number, except to remind the 
Convention that he had already sent a list of the killed, wounded and miss- 
ing, gig reticence regarding the loss of one-half of his battalion is unex- 
plained, except upon the supposition that he considered the lis' as affording 


We weep over her fallen, in the cause of liberty; and we 
do not cease to honor khera, because of their kinsmen who 
would have robbed her of her fame by allying her to the 
coalition of iiberticides. Dolce et decorum, est pro patria mori. 

The loss of the Americans, in the engagements on the 
27th of August, is as difficult to be ascertained as the num- 
ber of troops. Washington never made any official, report 
of the battle, other than to state in one of his letters that his 
loss was about one thousand. That this was far below his 
real lo^s, the Commander-in-Chief must have known as 
well as we, with all the evidence before us. The panic, and 
ungovernable despondency, consequent upon the disaster, 
which overwhelmed the army and the public, compelled 
the concealment of the actual extent of the loss. Wash- 
ington could make this partial statement of his loss, with- 
out rendering himself liable to the charge of duplicity; as, 
in his letter to the continental Congress, he would only be 
expected to report the loss of the regulars, the only troops 
under the control of that body. 

Gen. Howe returns, in his official report, a detailed state- 
ment of his own and the American losses in the battle; 
and the minuteness of his military report entitles it to our 
credit, far above vague summaries. The roll of prisoners 
in Gen. Howe's possession enumerates one thousand and 

sufficient particulars, and was so much offended by a censure of the Conven- 
tion, that he would not proffer any remarks upon the sad fate of his battalion. 
Content] >orary writers,, however, distinctly state the number of tin- killed, 
Wounded and miming of the Maryland battalion to have been more than 
two hundred and fifty. In a letter written Sept. 1st, 17TG, the writer says ; 
"The Maryland battalion lost two hundred and fifty-nine men, amongst 
whom twelve were officers : Capts. Veasy and Bowey ; Lieuts. Butler, Sterrit, 
Dent, Coursey, Morse, Prawl, Ensigns Corts and Fernandas. Who are kiih-.i . 
and who prisoners, is yet uncertain." 


ninety-seven ; or somewhat more than the whole number 
which Washington admits as killed, wounded, and missing. 
Gen. Howe estimates the whole number of troops which the 
Americans lost in the battle, at three thousand three hun- 
dred; which is evidently an exaggeration, as this. is not 
far from the entire force of those directly engaged. Sted- 
man estimates the number " killed, wounded, and missing," 
at two thousand. Left completely in the dark, as we arc, 
regarding the numerical strength of even a single regi- 
ment, before or after the battle, except by the estimate of 
its officers, we have little better than conjecture to afford 
us any light upon the loss of the Americans on this disas- 
trous day. There is, however, little doubt, that in killed, 
missing, and prisoners, it was not far from two thousand. 
The British lost about seventy killed, of whom live were 
officers, two hundred and eighty wounded, and twenty-one 
prisoners, making a total loss of three hundred and sixty- 
seven. 1 

1 All the letters of the period extol the courage and devotion of the Mary- 
land battalion, and rate its loss at nearly the same number. See Documents 
25 to 31. 

One of these writers, after naming the same missing officers, says: "about 
one hundred and fifty men of Smalluood's battalion are missing." The 
officers give Lord Stirling the character of as brave a man as ever lived. 
Stednian, the British historian, says ; " The Maryland Regiment suffered 
most severely, having lost upwards of two hundred and sixty men; which 
was much regretted, as that regiment was composed of young men of the 
best families in the country." — Stcdman's Am. War, vol. I, p. 19G ; Docu- 
ment 42. 

Gen. Howe, in his official report, says : " On the part of the King's troops, 
five officers, and fifty-six non-commissioned officers and rank and fde, were 
killed; 12 officers, and 24.') non-commissioned officers and rank and file, 
Wounded ; one officer, and 20 grenadiers of the marines, taken prisoners, by 
mistaking the enemy for Hessians. The Hessians had two privates killed, 
three officers, and 23 rank and hie wounded." 



The Siege of Brooklyn. 

At two o'clock, on the afternoon of the clay of battle, the 
conflict had ceased. The feeble remnant of the America!) 
army, which had continued the contest so long; after sue- 
cess was possible, had melted away ; a few survivors of 
the Maryland battalion had found safety in flight, across 
the salt marsh, every foot of whose surface was now swept 
by the enemy's artillery and rifle shot. The impediments 
with which nature had barred retreat, in this direction, 
had been increased by the labor of man. From a narrow 
tide channel, which emptied into Gowanus creek, below 
Denton's mill-pond, ^Nicholas Yechte, the first proprietor 
of the stone house around whose walls the sanguinary 
conflict had just closed, had, a century before, dug- a 
canal across the strip of marsh which intervened between 
the Gowanus road and the navigable waters of the creek. 
This artificial channel, hidden by the rank sedge and 
grass, formed an almost fatal barrier to escape in that 
direction. It was the apparent facility of crossing this 
narrow ditch, which lured numbers of the flying and ex- 
hausted survivors to their destruction. The tide had now 
risen to high water, tilling the canal nearly to the level of 
the meadow, so that its slimy banks afforded no foothold., 
or support for the hands of those who struggled in its 
waters. In the opposite direction, to the north of the 


Porte road, escape was even more impracticable ; for, at 
this time, the Yellow mills were in flames, and the fire 
bad communicated to the dwelling house, and to the 
bridges which crossed the flume and waste weir of the mill. 

The mill-house was situated at the foot of Freeke's pond, 
the bank of which formed a road which crossed the salt 
meadow at this point, and passed over a hridgc at each 
end of the dam. Turning at a sharp angle to the south, 
on the east side of the mill-dam, the road conuected, at the 
distance of two or three hundred yards, with the Porte 
road, down which the fugitives, from both Sullivan's and 
Stirling's divisions were still pouring, hotly pursued by 
the dragoons and Hessian riflemen. The flames of the 
burning mill and bridges, bursting upon their view as- 
soon as they passed the abrupt turn from the Porte road 
into the mill-lane, revealed the appalling fact that retreat 
was cut off in that direction. The cruel and selfish deed 
of firing the mill and bridges, was said by Col. Smallwood 
to have been the act of Col. "Ward, commanding an eastern 
regiment; who, early in the retreat, had safely passed his 
whole command over the dam, and, in order to secure his 
rear from attack, had set fire to the light wooden structures, 
and left hundreds of his countrymen, pursued by a victori- 
ous enemy, to perish. Xo military necessity called for this 
cruel sacrifice. The passage of the long, narrow causeway, 
swept hj an enfilading fire from the American redoubt on 
the hill, was too hazardous for a cautious foe to undertake 
it; and its destruction must have been devised by a panic- 
crazed brain, or prompted by a selfish and craven heart. 

The sacrifice of their lives, so freely made by the gene- 
rous and noble sons of Maryland, had not been made in 


vain.. An hour, more precious to American liberty than 
any other in its history, had been gained; and the retreat 
of many hundreds of their countrymen had been secured 
across the dreadful creek and marsh, whose treacherous 
tide and slime now covered so many of their brave com- 
rades. The carnage of battle could scarcely have been 
more destructive than the retreat ; for, at this time, no ves- 
tige of an army-formation existed, and nothiug remained 
but a mob of flying and despairing men, among whose masses 
officers and privates were borne undistinguished along. 1 

Let us for a moment review the scene which was ex- 
hibited in the amphitheatre, along the centre of whose 
arena flowed the sluggish waters of Gowanus creek. 
Almost the entire space from the present site of Smith 
street to Fourth avenue, and all that portion of the city 
south of Hamilton avenue, except the little neck of Red 
Hook, was salt marsh, whose treacherous bogs and ob- 
scure paths were intersected in every direction by dee]' 
bayous, creeks, and mill-ponds, up whose slimy channels 
the lazy tide was now creeping to its full. 

Although nearly three-fourths of a mile in breadth, no 
part of this wide arena afforded shelter from the devast- 

1 Among the brave officers who fell in this battle was Col. Philip John 
son, of Sidney, New Jersey. A journal of the day contains the following 
notice of this officer : " In the action of Long Island, Col. Johnson, of Gen. 
Sullivan's division, behaved with remarkable intrepidity and heroism. 
By the well directed fire of his regiment the enemy were several times 
repulsed, and lanes were made through them, till he received a ball in hifl 
breast which put an end to tin 1 life of as gallant an officer as ever com- 
manded a battalion." Gen. Sullivan, who was near him when he fell, says, 
"No officer could have behaved with greater firmness and bravery through 
out the action than Col. Johnson." lie sacrificed his life in defense of his 
country, and let his memory be dear to every American patriot, as long as 
the spirit which led him to the held shall actuate the sons of freedom. — 
Ma n u snnpts of Ge n. Joh n son . 


m fire which swept over it. The semicircle of hills to 
the east, from which the Americans had been driven, was 
thronged with the forces of the victorious and exultant 
i uerny. On every knoll, of sufficient area, were planted his 
death-dealing cannon. Each clump of trees, and little 
eminence, held a squad of Hessian riflemen; while, in 
advance of all, were pressing on the solid columns of 
British infantry and grenadiers, which constantly, as 
opportunity presented, deployed in line of battle, and 
delivered their terrible volleys of musketry. 

Half a mile to the north-west of the meadow's edge, on 
the ridge of ground that stretched from where Pacific and 
Court streets intersect, to the junction of Fulton and Bond 
streets, rose the low parapet of the fortifications. These, 
and the walls of Fort Greene, near the present crossing 
of Dean and Xevins streets, were thronged with anxious 
and sorrowing spectators. Along the space of ground 
that intervened between the line of entrenchments and 
the East Biver, several detachments, from the army in 
"New York, were hastening to defend the passage of the 
creek, and to effect a diversion in favor of the broken 
troops by threatening an attack upon the enemy. 

Washington had early in the day exerted himself to the 
utmost in bringing over troops from New York, to rein- 
force Sullivan and Stirling; and now that their forces 
were utterly crushed, he still strove to cover the retreat of 
the fugitives, and to strengthen his lines. Threatened, as 
these were, with imminent assault by a heavy British 
column under Gen. Robertson, Washington's prudence 
forbade the withdrawal from them of a. single man, even 
to prevent the slaughter of his soldiers. 


On the high ground to the west of Freeke's mill-pond, 
just opposite the terminus of the Porte road, sat, on hi- 
war horse, the American Commander, his great heart 
wrung with anguish at the dreadful scene before him. 
A soldier, stationed near the General on that day, 1 lias left 
the record of an incident worthy to be preserved, which 
exhibits the characteristic submission of all the natural 
emotions of the soul of Washington to the sterner behests 
of his judgment. While the General was communicatinjr 
his orders to Lieut. Col. Hart, 2 then commanding at this 
point, Ins attention was directed to the struggles of an 
unfortunate fugitive, apparently an inhabitant of the 
Island, who. in endeavoring to escape from the approach- 
ing enemy, had been firmly fixed in the mud of the pond. 
It was evident that, without assistance, his condition was 
hopeless; and, in spite of the exposure to the enemy's fire, 
and the danger of being; inextricably fastened in the 
tenacious slime, numbers of the men petitioned for liberty 
to go to his aid. The guns from the redoubt on the sand 
hill, known afterwards as Fort Boerum, swept the surface 
of the pond, and the ground beyond, so as to forbid close 
pursuit by the British; but "Washington was now well 
aware that their attack , would not be long delayed, and 
he refused to permit the rescue. The attempt, lie said, 
would place the rescuers in the same predicament, where 
they would certainly be captured or slain. Our tender 
hearted soldier says, regretfully, that, he never learned the 
fate of the poor fellow, whose misfortune warmly enlisted 

Hezekiali Munsell : see Document 48. 

Col. Grey was sick in New York, where he soon after died. 

mS /,;;;'■ 

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■ . • • ) 



bis sympathies; but such scenes were too sadly frequent on 
that day. 

At twelve o'clock, the detachments, which had been or- 
dered from Xew York, had begun to arrive ; and Washing- 
ton was now engaged in pushing them forward to threat-. 
ened points along the lines, and to the places on the creek 
and ponds where the fugitives were crossing. 1 

A Connecticut soldier 2 has given us a narration of many 
incidents attending the march of his regiment to the scene 
of slaughter, whose horrors his comrades' fears seem fully 
to have anticipated. Somewhere on the route from the 
ferry to Gowauus creek, this reinforcement passed a feeble 
party of artillerymen, almost frantic with their painful 
efforts to drag a twelve-pounder to bear upon the enemy 
across the creek. The brave fellows made the most earn- 
est appeals for help in bringing the heavy piece of ordnance 
into position, but their entreaties were unheeded by the offi- 
cers of this regiment of raw recruits, who seem to have been 

1 Among the incidents of the battle which tradition has preserved, there is 
one narrated by Judge Furman so striking, that it ought not to be omitted. 

"During the progress of the conflict, a detachment of the British army, 
while in pursuit of a party of American soldiers, marched down a lane lead- 
ing from the Brick tavern to Gowanus. A number of American riflemen, 
to obtain a better range, posted themselves in some high trees, near the 
road. One of them shot the English Major Grant, who fell without his 
slayer being discovered. Again lie loaded his deadly rifle and fired, when 
another officer fell ; but this time his place of concealment was revealed, 
and a platoon ord». red to advance and fire into the tree. The order was 
executed and the unfortunate sharp-shouter fell dead from his perch. After 
the battle, the two British officers were buried in a field near the spot on 
which they had fallen, and their graves were long protected by a fence of 
posts and rails where their remains still rest<18"24). But as an example to 
the reb-ls, the British refused the rites of sepulture to the American rifie- 
nian, until long after, when some pious hands, in defiance of the enemy's 
prohibition, placed his remains in the cavity made by the uprooting of a 
large tree by a recent gale ; and covered them with their mother tarth." 
•Adventures of a R-rSntionnry Soldier. Hallow ell, Maine,1820. 


demented with their own panic, and to have pushed forward 
with the most dismal forebodings of their impending late. 
The absorbing selfishness of terror had so paralyzed every 
sentiment of manhood in the breasts of the officers of this 
detachment, that they refused to aid in securing the very 
object of their march, because it was outside of their pre- 
scribed line of duty. Arrived at the bank of the creek, 
they found it thronged with their Hying countrymen, the 
last body of whom, that had continued to resist, had just 
been driven into the fatal stream. Within the view, and 
almost within the grasp, of the reinforcing regiment, many 
of the fugitives sank beneath the turbid waters of the creek. 
Although the mortality of that day is largely attributed 
to the dangerous bog and water of Gowanus creek and 
its ponds, yet, when it is remembered that the battery 
which Cornwallis had placed at the Vechte house was now 
pouring its discharges of grape and canister upon every 
point of the crossing, it is not hard to believe that most 
of those who fell in the creek, perished from these missiles 
rather than by drowning. 1 The brave fellows who had 
toiled so painfully in dragging the twelve-pounder through 
the deep sand, were row amply rewarded by the splendid 
results of its firing. After almost superhuman exertions in 
bringing their heavy piece into position, they opened lire 
upon Oornwallis's battery, at the stone house, and in a few 
minutes had the satisfaction of driving it out of range. 

1 Mr. Garret Bergen was a lad at the period of the battle, and visited the 
creek subsequent to the battle. In his narration of the scenes he witnessed 
he always declared that but few were drowned in the creek. Such evi- 
dence is, however, far from conclusive, us all negative testimony must be. 
Mr. Bergen was very young, saw but a small part of the creek, and that 
two davs after the battle, when the bodies had been removed. 


The British field-pieces were probably light four and six 
rounders, and unable to endure the heavy shot and accurate 
firing of the little band of artillerists ; so that although these 
arrived too late in the day to aid in repelling the attack of 
the British columns on Stirling, or to assist his devoted corps 
of Marylanders in their assaults on the Yechte house, they 
Actually accomplished the result which that general de- 
signed, in driving the enemy's battery from its post. 

It is probable that the firing from the redoubt at Fort 
Boerum also aided in the result. The letters of British 
officers, containing accounts of the battle of the 27th of 
August, speak with slight praise of the American gunnery, 
asserting: that the balls flew hisrh over the heads of their 
soldiers; but the withdrawal of a battery of four guns, 
before the lire of at most only an equal number, is testi- 
mony that implies a much greater skill. 

At two o'clock, in the afternoon of this day, the 
progress of the British forces along this wide-extended bat- 
tle-field, had been uninterruptedly successful. The com- 
plicated manoeuvres of three great assaulting columns, had 
been performed with the exactness and certainty of some 
vast machine, whose parts were moulded and move- 
ments regulated by a skillful engineer. It is impossible 
not to yield admiration to the brilliancy of the British 
plan of battle, and the magnificent perfection of its accom- 
plishment. It is not derogating from the military skill of 
Gen. Howe, to recall the fact that two months previously, 
the British spy, Sergeant Graham, had not only furnished 
the information which was indispensable to his success, 
but had sketched the very plan of attack which had just 
resulted in the defeat of the American army. But every 


victorious battle-field proved a Capua to Gen. Howe; anil 
on this occasion, his natural indolence and vpluptuousness 
found a ready excuse for delay, in the terrible lesson of 
Banker Hill. He remembered, too, that eighteen years 
before, at Ticonderoga, his brother, Lord George Howe, 
a noble and generous soldier, had fallen while advancing to 
assault a work which seemed only an insignificant heap 
of brush, but before which two thousand American and 
British soldiers had shared his fate. 

Among the officers of his army who keenly feit the 
disgrace of their commander's weakness- was Bri£. Gen. 
Robertson, a soldier of such merit as to be promoted soon 
after to the rank of Major General. It is probable that 
the jealousy, so easily aroused, between provincial and 
metropolitan officers, was not slumbering in the armies of 
these generals; for Robertson had resided in America 
twenty-live years, while Gen. Howe was fresh from the 
pomp and favor of the court. The long residence of 
Robertson in this country does not seem to have imbued 
him with the fatal respect for American military prowess 
which haunted the mind of his superior, as we learn from 
the minutes of his examination before a committee of Par- 
liament. 1 That he entertained but little respect for that 
quality of Gen. Howe which his friends entitled prudence, 
and his enemies procrastination, is plainly deducible from 
liis language. 

■ While the battle on the heights overlooking Flatbush 
was pending, Gen. Robertson, in obedience to Howe's 

'The minutes of the evidence given by all the British generals during this 
i n vest isat ion, will be fonnd in Document 43. 


..,.}. -is, had remained an idle spectator, within two lmndrcrl 
yards of the American entrenchments. The nature of the 
ground, in their front, permitted his scouts to approach the 
works so closely as to report that they would not withstand 
bin assault in force for a moment. Robertson repeatedly 
nought permission from Gen. Howe to carry the entrench- 
ments, with his single brigade; hut the imagination of the 
General pictured them as such formidable obstacles that 
he as often peremptorily refused. 

In his examination before the parliamentary committee, 
Gen. Robertson testified that the battalion of grenadiers 
Jed by Col. Stuart, and the Thirty-second regulars, without 
waiting for orders, crossed the open field north of the Flat- 
hush road with the intention of carrying Fort Putnam by 
assault. u Gen. Yaughan begged permission to attack the 
lines, which were semicircular, with parapets lined with 
spears and lances, but he was ordered back." l The gren- 
adiers, and light infantry, were commanded by Col. 
Monckton and by Gen. Yaughan, who saw the advantage 
with which fortune had favored the British forces, and 
told Howe that the rebels were now shut up between them 
and the sea, and entirely within their power. 

To all these appeals Gen. Howe turned a deaf ear, 
though Yaughan sent word to him that he could carry the 
lines with trilling loss, and fairly " stormed with rage when 
ordered to retire." Two or three hundred yards from the 
entrenchments, the surface of the ground declined abruptly, 
and offered such complete protection to the British troops 
as to be styled by Gen. Robertson in his testimony, 

1 London Chronic 1 'e. 


"a ho! low way." It afforded not only skelter from the 
American cannon, but an opportunity for some of the 
British letter-writers to affirm that the American cannon 
were not well mounted, as the shot, fired far above their 
heads, were only effective in cutting away the limbs of 
the forest trees high in the air. 

"We have seen how slight were the defenses before 
which seventeen thousand men, with forty pieces of artil- 
lery, were thus pausing; and it is a subject of curious interest 
to us, at this day, to observe the estimate of their strength by 
other British officers. From the minutes of the examina- 
tion of the officers in command on that day, before the 
committee of Parliament, we learn almost every thought 
which animated or depressed them. 

The lines, they testify, could not be carried by assault, 
they could only be taken by regular approaches. " We 
had no fascines to fill the ditches, or axes to cut away the 
abatis, or scaling ladders to assault so respectable a work. 
The lines were a mile and a half in extent, including 
angles, with a chain of five cannon-proof redoubts, or 
rather fortressess with ditches, as also had the lines which 
formed the intervals; the whole surmounted by a most 
formidable abatis, finished in every part. A corporal and 
six men had some difficulty in getting through the abatis/'' ' 
The subsequent knowledge of the strength of these works 
did not, however, confirm this extravagant notion of their 
impregnability, and honest Gen. Robertson speaks of them 
with some scorn in his testimony. 

: View of the evidence relating to the conduct of the American war. 
Document 43. 


r-'-.-h as they were, the British wore as hasty in their 
< [Forte, after the evacuation, to destroy the entrenchments, 
which gave snch mortifying evidence of their own timidity, 

as they had been tardy in assaulting them. To accomplish 
their destruction in the shortest time possible, the inhabit- 
ants of Kings county were compelled to labor side by side 

with the British soldiers, in filling the ditches, leveling the 
breast-works and redoubts, and effacing all traces of the 
works which they had so short a time previously aided in 
constructing. So effectually was their evidence of Gen. 
Howe's caution obliterated, that Gen. Eobertson says, 
'though he often rode over the ground, in a short time no 
vestige of the lines could be traced.'' 

It was at this period that the oversight or neglect of the 
engineer who had directed the construction of the defenses, 
nearly proved fatal to the remnant of the American army, 
protected by them. Anticipating the possible forcing of 
the lines along Gowanus creek, an interior line of defense 
had been planned, of which Fort Stirling and the redoubt 
crowning Ponkiesberg were part. The Fort, standing upon 
the Heights, commanded the approaches from the River to 
Red llook lane, and the sruns of the redoubt on Ponkies- 
berg overlooked the ground intervening between it and 
Fort Greene. 1 Xot until the thunder of the British guns 
had broken the slumbers of the American army on the 
morning of the twenty-seventh, did its officers seem to 

1 Fort Stirling was the strongest work of the Brooklyn defenses. It stood 
on the land of Mr. llieks ; since, the estate of the Pierrepont family. At nine 
o'clock on the morning of August 30th, as the last boats of the retreating 
a run were crossing the River, the advance guard of the British army oc- 
cupied this fort, unspiked the guns, and commenced firing on the retreating 



have been as fully aware of the existence of a gap in their 
line of defense between Fort Greene and Frecke's pond, 
as was their vigilant and well informed enemy. 

Several hundred feet of the lines at this point were un- 
finished, and it was only at daylight on the morning of the 
battle that the labor of closing them was commenced. 
One of the participants in this hurried and anxious task 
has left us his narrative of the incidents occurring at this 
portion of the lines. The narrator says, 1 that the position 
occupied by his regiment was near the Yellow Mills, and 
that on the morning of the battle the regiment was em- 
ployed in cutting down an orchard of apple-trees, to form 
a line of ahalis in front of the breast-work which was even 
then being constructed across the gap. Fortunately for 
the safety of this portion of the lines, the thrift of the pro- 
prietor of the farm had reared an orchard of large trees, 
then loaded with their ripening fruit. The inexorable 
necessities of war demanded their sacrifice ; and the 
pioneer's axe soon leveled them, to be dragged by squads 
of soldiers into line along the declivity, to defend a point 
BO strangely neglected until this critical hour. The mill- 
ponds and the creek completed tiie extension of the lines to 
the 'nay, their hitherto impassable mud being considered 
sufficiently formidable without artificial aid. 

Every incident which determines the position or exhibits 
the conduct of Washington on this day, is full of interest 
to us. It bas been asserted that the General remained on 
horseback, during the whole day ; but he was seen by this 
narrator walking along the lines, while giving his orders 

*Mr. Hezekiah MunselL Document 48. 


[ ■. the Colonel of each regiment in person. To Lieut. Col. 
Hurt, he was heard to say: "If the enemy come to attack 
\ou, let them approach within twenty yards before you 
fire." This order was given in anticipation of a stratagem 
of the enemy to draw the fire of the raw recruits when at 
Buefa a distance as to render it ineffective, and then With a 
rapid charge drive them from the breastworks. But, as 
the honest soldier quaintly observes: "Washington was 
too old for them." At this point, also, he heard. Washing- 
ton address the troops in these stirring words : " The time 
has come when Americans must be freemen or slaves. 
Quit yourselves like men, like soldiers ; for all that is worth 
living for is at stake. I have two pistols loaded, and if I 
see any man turn his back to-day, I will myself shoot him 
down. But I will not ask any man to go further than I 
do. I will fight with you as long as I have a leg or an 
arm." By words like these, addressed to the soldiers along 
the line of entrenchments, Washington sought to inspirit 
these young troops with the determination to make a firm 

That the information of Gen. "Robertson regarding the 
weak points of the American defenses, was minutely accu- 
rate, is confirmed by several circumstances. Spies had 
visited the camp, and returned with their information, 
unmolested, and almost without concealment; so uncer- 
tain was the discipline of the army, and so wide spread 
the disaffection of the inhabitants to the American 
cause. Deserters from the Island militia, as well as loyal 
inhabitants residing within the lines, had found but little 
difficulty in communicating with the British, and con- 
veyed to them the minutest details of the position and 


character of the defenses; the accuracy of which v. 
attested by the movements of the enemy, soon after the 
arrival of Gen. Robertson's brigade before the American 


The completion of the unfinished defenses, during the 
night and early morning, had been performed too rapidly 
for information of that important change to reach the 
enemy. Relying upon the correctness of the reports of his 
spies, a strongbody of Gen. Robertson's troops was therefore 
pushed forward, soon after the attack on Sullivan's posi- 
tion, with the design of forcing a passage through the 
break. It is probable that, confident of easily turning the 
right flank of the Americans through this gap, the enemy 
pressed forward with some precipitation until they were 
close upon the new breast-works, when they were received 
with a heavy fire. Surprised by resistance from a quar- 
ter deemed unguarded, the assaulting column retired in 
some confusion. During the day considerable bodies of 
this brigade were repeatedly formed, and pushed forward, 
apparently to assault the entrenchments at this point; but 
on recovering the bodies of the dead and wounded who 
had fallen in the first attack, they retired. Although it 
was fully believed at the time that these subsequent 
advances, by detached columns of moderate strength, 
were only intended for the recovery of those who fell in 
the first attack, yet it is more than probable that they were 
designed as a part of the general plan of battle. In ac- 
cordance with this, Gen. Robertson, by his manoeuvres, 
was to keep alive the apprehension of a general assault, 
and thus prevent the detaching of reinforcements to Gen. 
Sullivan or Lord Stirling. 


There wore, indeed, moments during the day, when a 
. liumn of live or six thousand men, under a vigorous and 
[tM commander, might have fatally struck Sir Henry 
. Ii tton's line while in the ardor of pursuit, and while 
broken by the woods and uneven ground. This, rna- 
na uvre, hy severing his communication with Robertson, 
would have exposed the latter to an assault from the en- 
trenched lines, and compelled his surrender, or at least his 
withdrawal under a heavy fire from front and rear. 

Another figure appears upon the scene, in striking 
contrast with the courtly and manly person of Washing- 
ton. Sometimes dashing along on. horseback at full 
enecd, his uniform consisting of a soiled shirt, over which 
be wore only a sleeveless waistcoat, with a common hanger 
slung across his broad shoulders by a leathern belt, this 
person exhibited a tireless energy in riding rapidly along 
the lines, without apparently any well defined purpose. 
Again he would be discerned striding back, with bustling 
haste, on foot, issuing his orders right and left, with a 
mixture of pompous dignity and vulgar familiarity. This 
was the brave Gen. Putnam, whose honors had been 
thrust upon him, more from the generosity of his country- 
men, than from true regard to his deserts. To him, un- 
fortunately, had been confided the important command of 
the forces on the Island ; and had success depended solely 
on his personal bravery, probably the misfortunes of 
this day would have been avoided. During the perform- 
ance of one of those evolutions by which Gen. Robertson' 
threatened the American lines, an incident occurred, so 
eminently characteristic of Gen. Putnam, that it will bear 


Among the Kings county militia, stationed behind the 
entrenchments, and at this time awaiting the assault mo- 
mentarily threatened, was a native of Brooklyn, named 
] temsen. It was from his lips that the narrative of the inci- 
dent was received. 1 At the point where Mr.. Remseu 
was stationed, the embankment was so low that the men 
were obliged to crouch behind it, to obtain protection from 
the British fire; and, whenever the enemy approached 
within range, the first line of troops kneeled, to aim and 
discharge their guns. A few paces in the rear of tin- 
firing parties, Gen. Putnam was constantly stalking back 
and forth, at every return enforcing anew his favorite 
command, which Bunker Hill had made so famous : 
" Don't fire, boys, until you can see the whites of their 
eyes/*' The eminent success of this injunction in that 
battle had given it an importance in the mind of the old 
Indian fighter which quite justified its frequent repetition 
behind the Brooklyn entrenchments. 

It was the reputation — somewhat damaged by later 
critical researches — of having stood at bay behind defenses 
as feeble as these, and there breasted the fierce rush of 
assaulting columns, that had gained from "Washington the 
reluctant appointment of Gen. Putnam to this command. 
For patient endurance of the inconveniences of a siege, 
and for stubborn resistance to the fierceness of an enemy's 
assault, his experience in Indian warfare had fitted him. 
But modern researches have clouded his other pretension-, 
and placed upon the brow of Col. Prescott the laurels, 
of which the fulsome laudations of Putnam, by his per- 

Statement to Mr. J. Carson Brevoort. by Mr. Remsen. 


ponal favorite?, had robbed their owner. Of the hollow- 
jm-s of ihi< part of his reputation, his soldiers, however, 
a v this time, suspected nothing. 

Had the British general been content with pushing his 
Forces headlong on the American entrenchments, without 
employing the refined devices of Italian military strategy 
in outflanking, it is possible that Gen. Putnam would 
have shone on this day as a brave, and perhaps a success- 
ful general. But, as it was, his exertions seem to have 
been confined to walking backward and forward behind 
the crouching lines of his men, and impressively repeating 
his famous military order. 

jSTear that part of the line where Mr. Eemsen lay, was 
a group that attracted his attention, because he felt certain 
that its manoeuvres would cause an explosion of Putnam's 
wrath, the moment it caught his eye. A soldier of one 
of the Connecticut regiments was crouching behind the 
breastwork, and was busily employed in loading his own 
and his comrade's gun, which were fired, however, only 
by the latter, a Maryland soldier, who was kneeling to 

v ' « ' CD 

rest his piece upon the parapet, and with deliberate aim 
picking off the enemy's troops. This partnership of 
courage and poltroonery, which exposed the brave Mary- 
lander without intermission, while his comrade was re- 
clining in perfect safety, at length arrested the attention 
of the promenading General. The angry blood, which 
fired so readily at the call of his hot temper, flamed in an 
instant on his countenance; and with a few quick strides 
he reached the side of the couchant hero, who remained 
unconscious of the proximity of his angry General. The 
flat side of his sword fell with stinging force on the back 


of" the culprit as ho exclaimed, " Get up, up yon d — d coward, 
and fire your own gun>." 

At one time a number of British officers approached so 
close to the lines, for the purpose of reconnoitering them, 
that, while engaged in their observations, they came within 
musket range. This group of officers was fired at by 
William Van Cott, of Bushwick, after a deliberate aim. 
The instant fall of one of their number announced that his 
shot had taken effect, and the survivors, on recovering 
the body, immediately withdrew. Perceiving the effect 
of his shot, either from remorse at having deliberately slain 
a fellow being, or perhaps because the act had committed 
him beyond the hope of pardon, Yau Cott threw down 
his musket, and said that " he had done his part." 1 

Thus with menaces of attack along the whole line, 
which terminated only in feeble skirmishes, the long, dis- 
astrous twenty-seventh of August was drawing to its end. 
Xight was gathering over the most hopeless enterprise 
ever undertaken in the cause of human liberty. On every 
side prevailed a sullen despair, which filled the timid with 
dismay, but armed the brave with sterner resolution. All 
looked forward to the morrow, with gloomy forebodings. 

Washington had witnessed, as we have seen, the total 
rout of Stirling's division, and the slaughter of the Mary- 
land battalion, and had at once hastened across the River 
to expedite the passage of reinforcements. The necessity 
for these was believed to be exceedingly urgent, as nothing 
was more certain than that the enemy had landed the 
great mass of his forces on Long Island. 

»It was during this afternoon that Capt. Rutgers' brother, Col. Rutgers, 
of Now York, Avas killed ; but at wbat part of the lines i^ unknown. 


The events of the morning had dispelled those illusions 
which had blinded his Council, and, to the mind of Wash- 
ington, had rendered it certain that the whole British 
army was before him, and that, until it had foreed the 
Brooklyn lines, the attack upon Xew York was suspended. 
Relieved from apprehension of imminent danger to that 
city, his clear judgment at once decided upon the import- 
ant movement which the enemy's position left open to him. 

Orders were at once communicated to the camps, from 
the Grand Battery to King's Bridge, for certain regiments 
to march. Every moment was big with opportunity. 
Enough troops must be withdrawn from Xew York to 
hold the Brooklyn lines, or the horrors of the morning 
would sink into insignificance, compared with the disasters 
which must be apprehended. 

Throughout the morning detached squads of troops 
had crossed the river, warned, by the heavy firing, that 
their countrymen were sorely pressed. Officers sought 
their commands, already hotly engaged, and privates were 
hurrying under urgent orders to their companies. A 
Connecticut regiment had crossed some time in the 
mornius", and, beins: ordered to reinforce Stirling on the 
right, had reached, as we have seen, the west bank of Go- 
wanus creek in time to send a few volleys into the enemy's 
columns, and to aid the last of the survivors of Stirling's 
corps in struggling across its slime. The conduct of its 
officers, if we may trust the account of one of its own 
members, was poorly calculated to.inspire the soldiers with 
that high courage which the exigencies of the battle-field 
demanded. The raw recruits, of which the regiment was 
composed, were already sufficiently impressed with the 


dangers of their situation. The unaccustomed sight of 
wounded men borne past them, with all the ghastly effects 
of battle apparent on their forms and depicted in their 
features, produced an appalling effect upon these young 
soldiers, which the conduct of their officers did not tend 
to remove. From one of the various causes which robbed 
many of the American regiments of their officers before 
the battle, the colonel of this regiment was absent from 
his place at the head of his men, and the lieutenant- 
colonel was in command. The regiment was marching 
along Red Hook laue, within half a mile of Gowanus 
creek, when it was halted for refreshment. Within sight 
of their comrades' terrible need, while the sanguinary 
conflict was raging in almost full view across the creek, 
these men found stomach to complain of their scanty fare. 
During the half hour consumed in their festive operations, 
while hundreds of their countrymen were perishing before 
them, whom a few volleys might have relieved from pur- 
suit, some of the strangest incidents occurred which a 
battle-field ever witnessed. 

The limited resources of the new Government had com- 
pelled the adoption of an economical designation of ranks. 
For this purpose the cockades of the field officers were 
red, those of captains were white, while the inferior officers 
were distinguished by wearing those of green. The lieu- 
tenant-colonel and the major were now observed busily em- 
ployed in removing these insignia of their rank from 
their hats. The nervous curiosity of the soldiers, already 
alarmed, and keenly sensitive to all that betokened their 
approach to danger, made them eagerly demand the cause 
of this singular self-degradation. To this, the lieutenant 


i . kmcl, whom the good naturod soldier narrating th«ee 
incidents declares to Lave been a fine officer and a brave 
soldier, most naively replied that "he was willing to risk 
his life in the cause of bis country, but was unwilling to 
stand as a mark for the enemy to -fire at." 

Another officer of this regiment, a gallant lieutenant, 
inspired by remorse, or perhaps rendered maudlin by 
potations with which he had hoped to imbibe courage, 
was running from one to another of his company, beseech- 
ing all to forgive his offenses, and declaring with lugubri- 
ous solemnity that he most generously forgave them any 
wrong they might have designed him. At that particular 
moment he could not recollect any special injury which 
he had suffered from their malice ; but he was disposed 
to be generous, and to make a clean breast of it. 

A private soldier, in the trepidation which the conduct of 
his officers had fostered if not inspired, had, unnoticed by 
them, marched nearly half a mile from the resting place 
unaware of the loss of his own musket. On being 
accosted by one of his comrades with the inquiry how he 
had disposed of it, he anxiously clapped one hand to his 
side, to assure himself that the musket was in his posses- 
sion ; but finding it gone, he set out on his return to camp 
to reclaim it. Luckily a cooler comrade had brought it 
on, designing to ascertain how Ions: the mental abstraction 
caused by fear would keep him insensible to the loss of his 
only means for self-protection. 

It was this regiment of men, rendered callous to every 
soldierly appeal by the brutal selfishness of fear, which 
passed, as we have seen, with such unconcern, the little 
party of artillerists who were painfully dragging their 


heavy gun through the deep sand of Red Hook lane. 
The zeal and self-devotion of those brave fellows enabled 
them to inflict a noble punishment upon their faint-hearted 
friends, almost equal in severity to that which they he- 
stowed upon the enemy. In advancing to its positiou on 
the west bank of the creek, the regiment was exposed to 
a galling fire, and was only relieved from its clanger by 
the active service of the very gun which it had so stolidly 
refused to aid in bringing into action. Whether the 
officers found time to restore the cockades to their hats, 
and to repent of their poltroonery, we do not know; but 
the only considerable service we hear of, as performed by 
them, was the assistance eiven bv their men in dragging 
out upon firm ground such of Stirling's soldiers as escaped 
massacre and drowning. " These fugitives," says the 
narrator, " came out of the water to us, looking like 
drowned rats, and were truly a pitiful sight. Many of 
them were killed in the pond, and more were drowned; 
and when the tide fell we found a number of corpses, and 
a great many arms, sunk in the pond and creek." 

Camping here for the night, however, we shall hear 
again of this regiment as engaged in an. exploit which 
required a temerity that appears incredible. The feeble 
courage of the officers will hardly surprise us, when we 
become acquainted with the means by which such rank 
was obtained, in those early days of our commonweal tli 
of which we are accustomed to think as a golden age of 
official purity and patriotism. In the town, county, and 
state Committees of Safety, was vested at this time almost 
the entire power of the Government; and boastful pre- 
tense, personal prejudice, and unblushing nepotism, had 


kwri none of their wonted sway in organizations which were 
themselves the creations of a town caucus. 1 

The Connecticut militia had acquired some notoriety in 
the previous campaign, from the provincialism of their 
manners, the old-world fashion of their equipments and 
uniforms, and their scorn of military discipline. The 
slight esteem into which they had fallen, on these accounts, 
had become still less in consequence of the frequent panics 
which added to their disorder and insubordination; and 
the not infrequent desertion of entire picket guards and 
companies had brought them very low in favor with the 
Commander-in-chief. An incident which occurred a few 
days subsequently, at Kip's Bay, on occasion of the land- 
ing of a small party of the enemy, will illustrate the cha- 
racter of these troops. Two Connecticut regiments, 
commanded by Gen. Parsons, fled in dismay before fifty 
or sixty of the enemy, without firing a shot, leaving their 
own General, and "Washington, with onlv about fiftv men 
to resist the attack. All attempts to rally them utterly 
failed. As well might sheep have been induced to make 
head against the wolves, so ungovernable was their panic. 
Under the disheartening revelations which this incident 
afforded, of the unfitness of the material with which he had 
undertaken the mighty task of securing American liber- 
ties, the firmness of Washington gave way; and flinging 
his hat upon the ground, in a transport of indignation 
and despair, he exclaimed, " Are these the men with 
whom I am to defend America ? " 2 At the moment, Gen. 
Greene says, he sought death rather than life; and, barer 

*See Graydon's Memoirs of a Life chiefly spent in Pennsylvania, 
9 Head, p. 23*3, vol. I; Gtaydon, p. 174. 


headed and alone, Washington would have remained to 
meet his fate at the hands of the advancing- enemy, had 
not his bridle been seized by an aid-de-camp, who pre- 
served the life of the Commander-in-chief in spite of the 
despair which made him for the time indifferent to it. 

Another incident occurred in !New York, during the 
fortnight subsequent to the battle, which exhibits in a 
still stronger lisrht the difficulties with which Washington 

CO o 

had to struggle, and the feeble patriotism of some of his 
troops. Gov. Trumbull of Connecticut, fully alive to the 
momentous necessities of the times, had tendered to 
the General the services of five or six hundred mounted 
farmers, who presented themselves in W'ew York, soon 
after the battle of Long Island, under the command of 
Col. Thomas Seymour. On being informed by Washing- 
ton that the period of their enlistment was too short to 
effect a discipline which would make them useful as cavalry, 
Col. Seymour, with all the appearance of a generous glow 
of self-devotion, offered the services of his troops asinfantry. 
A few days of camp duty and hard fare, however, deve- 
loped in the colonel a lawyer-like acuteness which was 
mure creditable to his shrewdness than to his patriotism. 
The severity of the service, and the dangers which were 
thickening around the hard-pressed American army, made 
him regret his rash fervor; and, at the end of three or 
four days, he informed Washington that he had discovered 
that it was contrary to the laws of Connecticut for her 
cavalry to serve as infantry, and therefore he demanded 
the dismissal of himself and troops. 1 Washington replied 

1 Irving' s Life of Washington, vol. n, p. 285. 


contemptuously, that " as his men considered themselves 
exempt from the common duty of soldiers, would not 
mount guard, do garrison duty, or perform service sepa- 
rate from their horses, on an island where horse-troops 
could not he brought into action, he did not care how 
soon they were dismissed." 1 

One of these valiant cavalrymen had been in some capa- 
city on Long Island during the action of the twenty-seventh, 
and the unlucky trooper had the misfortune to he captured. 
The British officers, before whom he was brought, were 
more disposed to merriment than to cruelty, at that mo- 
ment, and seemed greatly entertained with his odd military 
costume, and his naive address. On being asked what 
was his particular line of duty in the American army, he 
replied that it was "to Hank a little, and carry tidings.'" 2 

But, happily for the destinies of the country, these were 
not the only troops which Washington was enabled to 
bring across the JRiver, for the reinforcement of his lines. 
Fearing an assault on the extreme left, he had early in 
the day ordered the passage of the two Pennsylvania bat- 
talions, commanded by Cols. Shee and Magaw, then 
stationed at King's Bridge, on the Harlem river. It was 
late in the afternoon when they arrived at the Brooklyn 
ferry; and, as all sounds of the conflict had ceased, they 
were quartered near, for the purpose of crossing at early 
dawn. The panic and confusion which prevailed in Xew 
York on that night were frightful. The news of the defeat 
and capture of the army, and the approach of a sanguinary 

1 Or ay don. 

8 Graydoii's Memoirs. 


enemy, tortured the minds of citizens and of soldiers; and, 
to the natural apprehension excited by them, was added 
the great difficulty with which food was procured, for either 
officers or men. At the Grand Battery, it is true, barrels 
of crackers and gunpowder, and boxes of bullets and 
hard bread, stood open for such as had the good fortune 
to espy, and the providence to secure them; but there 
were many who obtained neither. 

Xight had now closed in upon the scene of defeat and 
slaughter; and for seven years after none but an enemy's 
or a captive's eye, unless perhaps the furtive glance of secret 
Mends, rested upon that gory battle-field. Long before 
that period had expired, the mournful evidences of massacre 
and inhumanity had been hidden in the woods and 
thickets upon the Brooklyn hills, or were sunk in the 
deep slime of the Gowanus creek and meadows. "Within 
the Brooklyn lines was now presented a scene of wild dis- 
order and confusion, that was not without a dramatic and 
ludicrous by-play mingling with its tragic interest. The 
utmost astonishment and consternation had seized the 
minds of officers and men, at the manner in which their 
defeat had been effected. " For," as it was soid by Heed, 
u had Sir Henry Clinton fallen from the clouds, his pre- 
sence would not have been more unexpected," than when 
be fell upon their rear. The troops who had arrived from 
New York, subsequent to the combat, were eager to learn 
the particulars of a battle, only vague rumors of which had 
readied them. To gratify the cravings of curiosity, and 
to allay the pangs of hunger, were alike objects of atten- 
tion ; and groups of soldiers who had survived the carnage, 
and whom the darkness now permitted to enter the lines, 


were eagerly importuned to narrate what they had seen 
and had suffered. 

Purine; the nicrht the number of those fortunate fuffi- 
tives who were enabled to effect their escape, and to reach 
the lines, was very considerable; for the investiture of 
the entrenched village of Brooklyn, although close, was, 
from the nature of the ground, not without gaps on the 
salt meadows and bogs. The dense woods and thickets 
which then covered more than three-fourths of the site of 
the present city, greatly favored the attempt to pass the 
enemy's pickets and scouts. The great swamp which 
then extended its tangled maze, along the present line of 
Grand and Flushing avenues, from "Wallabout hay to 
Xewtown creek, was too dense to allow pursuit of the 
fugitives, while its devious paths, familiar to many of them, 
led over morasses too treacherous and threatening for a 
stranger's foot. 1 

Gen. Parsons, a brave Connecticut officer, who com- 
manded on the extreme left during the morning of the 
twenty-seventh, was surrounded by the enemy in a swamp, 
where is now the basin marked for a lake in Prospect Park ; 
but, eluding his pursuers until night set in, he was fortunate 
enough to succeed in reaching the entrenchments. 2 A body 
of American troops made so vigorous a push upon the 
enemy's lines near Bedford, that eighty of their number 
broke their way through, after close, hard fighting, and 

'This dense mass of foliage, covering some hundreds of acres of "bog and 
lowland, remained through the Revolution ; and its secret paths afforded 
passage to many an exile furtively revisiting his home, and many an agent of 
the provincial Congress. 

3 Gen. Parsons was said by Lieut. Col. Grant to have been the person who 
wounded him. 



escaped. Taking the Xewtown and Astoria road, th\ \ 
crossed the river at Hellgate, and came in during the 
next day. 

The alarmed inhabitants of the neighboring towns, who 
had abandoned their homes on the landing of the invad- 
ers, and had fled to the Brooklyn lines, added another 
element of confusion to the masses which thronged the 
little entrenched peninsula. Twelve or fifteen hundred 
horned cattle, gathered from the farms of Flatbush and the 
adjacent towns by military order, for the purpose of de- 
priving the enemy of their use as supplies — which, 
notwithstanding, fell into his bauds on the evacuation of 
Brooklyn — were now roaming about the trampled camps, 
which afforded them no sustenance, and lowing for the 
rich pastures from which they had been driven. Early 
in the evening a heavy thunder shower had fallen upon 
the unprotected troops, and added greatly to the general 
discomfort ; but now that it had ceased, the camp fires 
threw their ruddy glow upon the groups which were col- 
lect ed amid the stramre scenes of this bivouac of a defeated 
army. The quaint, Dutch structures, so familiar to us, 
which straggled hope and there alone; the narrow country 
roads, clustered thicker around the little octagonal Church 
which stood in the middle of the Jamaica road, near the 
crossing of the present Fulton avenue and Bridge street 
These were occupied by the officers; while the half uni 
formed, and scarcely more than half-clothed, soldiers of the 
republic were stretched wearily upon the wet ground, 
or grouped around the camp fires, broiling their salt pork on 
the coals, or perhaps employed in dividing one of the 
slaughtered cattle. Here the exiled families of the neigh- 


boring firmer* clustered around the farm-wagons which 
had brought them and their household gear to these, un- 
wonted scenes, where they sat, startled by the present, 
and appalled at the prospects of the future. On the verge, 
where the glow and the shadow met, might he seen herds 
of the captured cattle, for a moment standing with their 
great horns and eager eyes thrust forward into the light, 
and anon, frightened by some of these unfamiliar Bights 
and sounds, sweeping away, as with the rush of a troop of 
cavalry, into the darkness. 

When, to these weird scenes, is added the gloom 
which that night had fallen upon our country's hopes, 
the apprehension of the sudden night-assault, or of the 
onset of the victorious foe upon the morrow, the mad- 
dening thought that scarcely a mile away, upon the hills, 
lay two thousand of their countrymen, tortured with 
stiffening wounds or silent in death — we can easily 
picture to ourselves the horrors which then clustered 
around the spot upon which now stand the edifices of a 
great and prosperous city. 

Even up to the night of the twenty-seventh of August, 
the general officers of the American army clung to the 
unhappy delusion that it was still possible to defend New 
York; and, as its possession could not be maintained with- 
out the occupation of Brooklyn, "Washington indulged 
their hopes, or perhaps submitted to that overruling of his 
judgment, which the undetermined powers of his com- 
mand at the time compelled. This decision was attended 
with less danger, a9 the movements of the enemy's fleet 
and army had convinced the Commander-in-chief, at eight 
o'clock, that no immediate assault was intended. To 


decide for the enemy, almost in advance of the conscious- 
ness by him of his own intentions, is the peculiar power 
of a great General; and on this occasion Washington 
justified that appellation, by acting upon his anticipation 
of the enemy's movements as confidently as if he had 
been present at their council. To his calm judgment it 
was clear that Lord Howe would never risk the safety of 
his fleet in passing the heavy shore-batteries ; nor would 
the General, his brother, with the carnage of Charlestown 
heights still present in his memory, shatter his splendid 
army by hurling it on a paltry breastwork, which could 
be so certainly and safely taken by regular approaches. 
Everything combined to convince Washington that the 
blow was suspended, and would not immediately fall. At 
night, the fleet was still at anchor, without exhibiting any 
tokens of a movement, the possibility of which was 
indeed precluded by the unvarying direction of the wind. 
All the wide semicircle of hills glowed with the camp- 
fires of the enemy's land forces, and all signs of prepara- 
tion for an assault had ceased. After the most careful 
preparations to resist a night attack, "Washington at length 
submitted the fate of his army to the issue of a battle 
in which it should stand behind its entrenchments, and so 
awaited the fortunes of the morrow. 

Among the incidents of this nighty one which tradition 
has preserved is worthy of narration, although history 
has not deigned to record it, as it is associated with the 
brave defense of an isolated position. On the narrow lane 
which skirled the shore of Gowanus bay, near where 
Third avenue is intersected by Twenty-third street, yet 
stands the house of "Wvnant Bennst, its walls scarred and 


indented by the grape-shot fired during this night, from 
British or Hessian guns. From the lips of the then pro- 
prietor, the story of its occupation and defense, narrated 
to members of Ins family still living, is derived. Mr. Ben- 
net, and some of his whig neighbors, had participated in, 
the sanguinary conflict which raged around his dwelling; 
and, front his knowledge of the peculiar advantages of the 
vicinity for defense, may have suggested its occupation by 
a portion of Stirling's troops. 

Although we cannot learn, without regret that the names 
of those brave Long Island farmers, who fought for home 
and country in the battle which raged along their pleasant 
farms, have not come down to us, we are still glad, to find 
undoubted evidence that some of them were faithful, where 
treason was safety. 

The position of Wynant Bennet's house, in conjunction 
with the adjacent knoll and creek, gave it the character 
of a formidable redoubt; as the sand-banks and thickets 
could not be battered down by cannon shot, and the 
house was below the range of the batteries. It stood, 
about fifty yards from the bay, in one of those sheltered 
nooks at the foot of the hills, in which our Dutch farmers 
loved so well to nestle their dwellings. Half that distance 
from its door, toward the south, the tide flowed through a 
narrow creek, to a bog, which extended in a south-easterly 
direction for a hundred yards beyond the house. On a 
slight bridge, the road to the ^Narrows crossed this little 
bayou, and wound in a sharp curve over a sand-hill or 
bluff, called Bluckie's Barracks. Hidden between the 
sides of a deep cut in the hill, the road, winding along its 
eastern face, was completely obscured from the view of 


the enemy advancing from the south, and enabled the 
American riflemen, under Col. Atlec, to occupy it with 
great annoyance to the British, and almost perfect security 
to themselves. Added to these favorable features for a 
defensive position, the bluff jutted out so far into the bay 
as to be well protected by its waters, and was covered 
with a tangled -forest, which aided in the concealment and 
protection of its defenders. The crushing of Stirling's 
left and centre on the hills, left this point so far to the left 
of Gen. Grant's force, that it was doubtless considered by 
its officers unnecessary to risk the loss of such numbers of 
their men as must have fallen in assaulting the position, 
which was scarcely less formidable in its defenses, than in- 
significant by its isolation. By adopting a different policy 
the Americans lost the battle of Germantown, in checking 
their pursuit of a flying foe, to make a useless assault on 
Chew's house, under a murderous fire from the squad of 
infantry, who, in their flight, had found protection within 
its walls. 

During the conflict between Stirling and Grant in the 
morning, the sharp fire of Atlce's and Kichline's riflemen, 
stationed here, had more than once turned back the ad- 
vancing enemy. 1 A.s the dense flies of the detachments 
from Grant's division moved up the narrow winding 
road, the sharp crack of the American rifles would burst 

'Mr. Garret Bergen, an aged resident of Gowanus, who died a few years 
since, was aceustoined to narrate an incident that occurred during the battle, 

of which he was a witness. The tire of the American riflemen had become 
so deadly, that a British sub-otllcer rushed into the farm-house in a panic of 
fear, declaring that he would not remain on the field exposed to certain 
death, from a hidden foe who picked off all the officers. — Statement by the 
late John G. Bergen. 


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from the thickets and clumps of trees on the banks above. 
In a few minutes, these deadly discharges became too 
fatal for endurance, by men exposed to an enfilading lire 
without the opportunity for retaliation or defense, and 
the detachment was withdrawn. Every advance of the 
British, in this direction, was repulsed; and it is be- 
lieved that from Kiehline's rifles on the hill, aud the 
defenders of Bluckie's Barracks on the right, the enemy 
suffered the greater part of the loss reported by Grant in 
his division. 

Tradition preserves another incident occurring on this 
spot. "When the dreadful rout began, and the broken ranks 
of the American army, crushed together in a mob of flying 
and despairing men, torn by the storm of grape and volleys 
of musketry, were skirting the borders of Frceke's and Den- 
ton's mill-ponds, to seek a crossing place, it is probable that 
the Islanders engaged in the battle, conscious that escape 
in that direction was nearly hopeless, turned their flight in 
the opposite one. All the frightful dangers of that morass 
and creek, into which so many of their countrymen were 
blindly plunging, were familiar to them ; and they sought 
shelter in a position whose advantages for a desperate 
defense were more to be trusted than the terrors of the 
creek and marsh. Thrust back from every other channel 
of escape, our sturdy farmers, alarmed for their families, 
as well as^for themselves, instinctively sought the homes 
which till now had sheltered them. But a few days 
before, Mr. Bennet and his neighbors had furbished up 
their fowling pieces, in anticipation of the hour of battle, 
and now, with all its grim horrors, it was upon them. In 
these quiet homes, that nestled in the glades and under 


the hills, they had been preparing for war without know- 
ing anything of its sad realities. Soon after the news of 
the landing of the British reached him, Mr. Benuet had 
cut the lead sinkers from his seines and fikes, and his 
wife had aided him in moulding them into bullets. 
Others had sacrificed their pewter spoons, to form the 
halls they had this day sped on their errands of death. 
And now they were flying before the enemy they had 
relied so confidently upon repulsing. 

While part of their number were stationed in the 
thickets on the hill, or lined the borders of the deep cut 
in the road, others garrisoned the house, and guarded the 
northern gate of their stronghold, the bridge. So fierce 
had been the resistance by the riflemen, and so bloody 
the repulse of the British in their assaults during the fore- 
noon, that night found the Americans still in possession 
of this isolated outpost. Late in the afternoon a boat 
with one or two officers had passed Red Hook, and come 
down to this point, for the purpose of gaining some in- 
formation of Stirling's division ; and it was perhaps owing 
to their suggestions, and their encouragement to hold 
out until night, that these dispositions for defense were 

While preparations were making for departure, under 
cover of the darkness, a number of soldiers, with the 
recklessness of their class, occupied their time in playing 
a game of cards in a room of Wynant Bennet's house. 
The rays, streaming through the narrow window, attracted 
the attention of some British artillerymen upon the hill, 
and in a short time the card party were startled by the 
heavy roar of a field-piece at no great distance; but as no 


result followed that indicated their group to be the .target, 
the game was continued. The gun was fired again, and 
again, until the proper range was obtained, when the crash 
of a shot against the side of the house, close to the window, 
suddenly terminated the game. Several shots struck the 
house — marks of whose passage are still visible — the 
light, which the party left burning in the haste of their 
departure, indicating its position so well as to render the 
aim of the gunners tolerably accurate. 

In the meantime, all the boats of the neighboring creek: 
and shore, whose usual place of mooring was familiar to 
the inhabitants, had been collected ; and, at a short time 
after midnight, all. the occupants of Bluckie's barracks 
had been embarked and rowed over the River to Xew 
York. Bennet's house was abandoned by the family, 
who accompanied the retreating troops, from appre- 
hension that the repulse which the enemy had suffered 
in its neighborhood, might have so exasperated them, 
that little distinction would be made by them between 
soldiers and non-combatants. 1 

In the camp within the Brooklyn lines, the night wore 
slowly away to the weary and anxious soldier, who there 
found security, but not repose. The usual camp-alarms, 
which spread anxious thrills through a body of broken 
and dispirited men, in the presence of a powerful and 

1 It will thus be seen that the battle of the twenty-seventh of August was a 
series of unconnected skirmishes, in which detachments of the American 
army, cut off from the main body, fought here and there amid the dense 
woods, or narrow passes, as accident or skill afforded thorn an opportunity 
for successful resistance. Few of these stands, however, have left the evi- 
dence of the struggles around them, so plainly as the humble farm-house 
of Wynant Sennet. 



victorious enemy, were not infrequent during the Urng 
night ; but when the dawn arose upon the dull, leaden 
sky, the sounds of conflict, or of angry watchfulness, grew 
more frequent. Here and there along the lines, the dis- 
charges of musketry, or the sharp ring of a rifle, gave 
token of the proximity of the enemy. But as the morn- 
ins: light increased, other sounds evinced his energy and 
determination ; for the dull thuds of the pick announced 
that the enemy was himself entrenching. At the distance 
of six hundred yards from Fort Putnam, on the high 
ground near the present junction of De Kalb and Clinton 
avenues, just out of rifle range, the breast-works of a 
redoubt began to appear. Gqu. Howe had prudently 
declined the tempting opportunity which the ardor of his 
men presented him, of assaulting the feeble entrenchments 
so thinly manned by the dispirited troops he had lately 
defeated; and he was now securely making his advances 
bv a regular sies;e. How" little effective resistance could 
have been made, we at this day probably know much better 
than did either of the contending parties. 

The American guards slept at their posts, although fre- 
quently aroused by their officers, and threatened with 
instant death on the repetition of the offence. So great 
were the weariness and stupor which fell on these worn 
survivors of the battle, that, although the rain fell in 
torrents during the evening, until the camp was flooded 
with water, they slept upon the soaked earth, and in the 
pools of water, unconscious of the peals of thunder and the 
vivid lightning. The decision of Gen. Howe, now so ap- 
parent, relieved the Americans from the immediate 
apprehensions of an assault, only delayed the approach ol 


a danger but little less threatening. In a few hours the 
cannon shot and shell, from the redoubt now being con- 
structed, would be crashing through the lines, from a 
distance which made its position unassailable. 

In the meanwhile, Washington was hurrying to the 
defense of his lines every soldier who could be withdrawn 
from New York. The remnant of Smaliwood's battalion, 
and the Pennsylvania battalions of Cols. Shee andMagaw, 
were joined by Glover's Marblehead regiment, and soon 
after daylight, on the morning of the twenty-eighth, were 
hurried across the river, and marched to the extreme left 
of the entrenched lines, on the ground between Wal- 
labout bay and Fort Putnam. On this low marshy land, 
saturated with the heavy rains of the previous night, these 
regiments were encamped, where the discomfort and un- 
wholesomeness of their position were increased by the 
drizzling rain which fell throughout the day. Nothing 
could better evince the depression which pervaded the 
troops that occupied the lines of the Brooklyn entrench- 
ments, than the expressions of joy with which they re- 
ceived these reinforcements. To most of them it must have 
appeared like a reprieve from death, as they fully compre- 
hended the weakness of their position, and the certain 
results of an assault upon it. There was little, however, 
in the condition of the arriving troops to induce self- 
gratulation ; for the fatal camp dysentery, and malarious 
fevers, had thinned their ranks as effectually as a bloody 
battle, and the remembrance of the hundreds of their 
comrades left behind them, lying in their camp hospitals, 
or resting in a soldier's grave, had lessened their confi- 
dence and efficiency* 


The combined forces of the regiments gathered art this 
point, amounted to thirteen hundred men; and though 
greatly reduced from their original numbers, still, by dint 
of hard drilling, by officers who were emulous to excel in 
discipline, they presented a soldierly appearance, strongly 
in contrast with the mob of disorderly and insubordinate 
men which filled the ranks of other regiments. Washing- 
ton himself attests their superiority, in one of his letters, 
by saying: " They had been trained with more than 
ordinary attention/'' The ground which they occupied 
was not only low and marshy, but gave very unfavorable 
promise of successful defense. From the head of a small 
creek emptying into "Wallabout bay, near the present 
Raymond and Tillarj' streets, the line of defense extended 
alom;* the slischtiv ascending ground, to the vicinity of 
Park avenue, and was not only entirely overlooked by the 
hills occupied by the British, but would be completely 
covered by the range of the batteries they were mounting 
in the redoubt. As the nature of the low ground in their 
front forbade the construction of breast-works, it was de- 
fended, as we have seen, by a wide ditch, the embankment 
formed by the earth thrown from it being surmounted by 
a (raise of sharp-pointed stakes, firmly planted on its top. 

If sleep were possible on the sodden earth, the pangs of 
hunger, to which the defenders of this part of the line were 
now a prey, would have driven it away. Abundant sup- 
plies had been distributed; but the rain had saturated the 
bread in their haversacks, and extinguished the fires 
kindled for cooking their salt pork. Without tents, or 
shelter of any kind, it was remembered for many years 
afterward by Capt. Graydon, of Shee's regiment, with 


what gratification he partook of a slice of fat barbecued pig, 
procured by one of his men at the risk of bis life. Close 
to the entrenchments, stood a farm house, from whoso 
dangerous proximity to both contending forces the inha- 
bitants had fled; and their deserted home and farm-yard 
furnished to the famished soldiers both the welcome food, 
and the fire for its cooking. Even the exposure of their 
position to the hottest of the enemy's fire, had not suffi- 
cient terror to overcome the fierce demands of hunger. 

At last the slow hours of that twenty-eighth of August 
wore away. Even the drizzling rain, the pangs of hunger, 
and the dreary wretchedness of the muddy bivouac, were 
at times unfelt, when tokens of an immediate general 
assault upon the entrenchments became more threatening. 
Along nearly the whole extent of the lines, a skirmishing 
fire was maintained during the clay, which increased at 
times at different points to such a degree, and was re- 
turned by such heavy volleys from the enemy, that regi- 
ments were formed, and preparations made, for repelling 
an attack by the enemy's whole line. Indeed, so constant 
were the discharges from the American entrenchments, 
and so frequent the heavy crash of concentrating firing, 
that from Wallabout bay, across the entire neck of the 
peninsula, and along the mill-ponds and creek to Gowanus 
bay, there seemed to be a line of battle heavily engaged. 
. This skirmishing engagement was encouraged by the 
officers, in accordance with Washington's orders, as it 
served in some degree to inspire confidence in his beaten 
and dispirited troops, and also warned the enemy of the 
maintenance of our lines by a heavy force. Washington 
still retained his intention of risking the great battle which 


he deemed inevitable, behind the Brooklyn entrenchment.- ; 
for all his movements indicate that, up to this time, the 
idea of a retreat from Long Island had not been enter- 
tained. In fact, the almost blind confidence of the General 
in his insubordinate, ill-disciplined, and poorly armed 
forces is quite inexplicable; for he manoeuvred them in 
positions which would have tried the nerves of veteran 
soldiers, and raw recruits were thrust forward into battle 
with the most thoroughly disciplined army of Europe. 

The constantly recurring showers had caused the sus- 
pension of work upon the British redoubt, but the enemy 
seized the occasion of a heavy thunder-storm to make a 
demonstration upon the American lines. They doubt- 
less expected to find the Americans unprepared, in con- 
sequence of the damage to their ammunition and lire-arms; 
which would not equally affect the efficiency of the as- 
saulting force, relying solely upon their bayonets. Three 
strong columns, said by the current accounts to have 
consisted of their entire force, were thrown forward at 
different points between Eort Putnam and Tort Box, but 
were met bv such heavy vollevs alons; the whole line, that 
they were not pushed to the assault, but were recalled as 
soon as the firm resistance, of the heavy force manning the 
works, was demonstrated by the attempt. The British 
officers stormed with rage at the restraint upon their 
courage, imposed by the excessive caution of their com- 
mander, and expressed the utmost scorn of the paltry 
works before them, and of the contemptible mob of 
farmers and tradesmen which defended them. 

The assault at no point was a surprise. Fortunately, 
perhaps, their very destitution of shelter made the vicinity 


q{ the breast-works as comfortable for the bivouac of Un- 
American troops as any position within the. lines; and the 
men, in compliance with orders, lay upon their firelocks 
during the storm, to protect them with their bodies. 
Upon the announcement of the approach of the enemy,. 
the troops sprang at once behind the parapet with their 
arms and ammunition, thus preserved, in condition to 
meet and turn back the assaulting columns. 

There were evidences of concert between these move- 
ments and an expected one by the fleet, which, at the 
same time, made strenuous exertions to bring its guns to 
aid the attack; but the elements, which combined for the 
discomfort: of the American troops, seemed to have been 
also arrayed for the purpose of preventing their destruction. 
The wind either lulled entirely, or held obstinately in the 
north-east, and thus baffled every effort of Lord Howe to 
sail his fleet into the East River, where it had but to 
appear, and the destiny of America was fixed. On what 
slight casualties, what unexpected conjunctures of the 
most insignificant affairs, hung the fate of the army, and 
of the cause of liberty ! 

Another long and gloomy night passed wearily away, 
and the depressing influences of their situation began to 
wear upon the spirits and endurance of the bravest of the 
troops. It was evident to all, that their occupation of 
Brooklyn was limited to the time when the guns from the 
enemy's fleet and batteries should open fire upon their 
position. During the night, the British had so far com- 
pletcd their redoubt as to mount their great guns upon it, 
and to be in readiness for opening their lire on the succeed- 
ing day. 


A dense fog hung over the Island and Kiver, when the 
morning of the twenty-ninth dawned. The obscurity 
which shut from the view every object at the distance of 
a few yards, delayed the opening of the fire from the 
British batteries; and it was not until late in the. forenoon 
that the heavy mist lifted sufficiently to permit the observ- 
ation of objects within the lines. The guns in the redoubt 
on the Clinton avenue height began at once a vigorous 
cannonade upon Fort Putnam, which replied, with its 
five heavy pieces, sending their solid shot into various 
points within the British lines. With regard to the effect 
of this lire, American accounts have preserved the same 
reticence as on most subjects connected with the history of 
the siege, and have left us nothing to communicate. The 
British accounts, however, treat the whole affair with 
great levity, and assert that the American cannon balls 
ilew high over their heads. 1 

The inclemency of the previous night, and the opening 
of the great siege guns upon the fort and lines near 
them, had engendered a feeling of extreme despondency in 
the minds of the officers of the Pennsylvania battalions, 
which guarded the extreme left of the fortifications. 
During the morniug of the twenty-ninth, Col. Shee, 
without calling a council of his officers, had obtained in 
private, from most of them, an expression of opinion re- 
garding the safety of their position. Capt. Graydon's 

1 " On tlio t'tventy-nmth, the Briiisli riflemen sheltered themselves behind 
the houses of Mr. (V.venhoven and Mr. Bergen, near the lines, and to pre- 
vent them from using these protections for annoying - our troops, the houses 
■were set on fire by the Americans, and consumed." Gtu. Johnson's Manu- 
script Journal, 


prompt statement that their situation was a very dis- 
couraging one, doubtless represented the belief of all; 
for he was directed by Col. Shee to hasten to the quar- 
ters of Col. Joseph Reed, and request him to ride 
down to that part of the lines — with the design of 
urging him to propose a retreat without loss of time. 
CoL Shee at the same time remarked that it was his belief 
that unless his forces were soon withdrawn from their 
dangerous position, they would all be cut to pieces. 
Capt. Graydon did not find the adjutant-general at his 
quarters, as he had a short time previously ridden down 
to the battery on Red Hook, in company 'with General 
Mifflin, and Col. Grayson of Virginia, one of "Washing- 
ton's aids. The former had been in command of the 
forces stationed at King's Bridge, and. had only the day 
before arrived in camp. The Red Hook redoubt was 
situated on a knoll, in the centre of a little peninsula 
of upland, scarcely more than twenty acres in extent, 
which rose, at the highest point, no more than twenty 
feet above the great salt meadow that surrounded it, 
Its site is believed to be intersected by Van Brunt and 
Tan Dyke streets. Although a work of but little import- 
ance, the severe battering it had undergone from the Roe- 
buck, on the morning of the twenty-seventh, impressed 
the minds of these officers with greater despondency 
than had all the sad events of which the last few days 
had been so full. From the condition of this earth- 
work, torn and rent by the distant guns of a single ship, 
could be easily foreseen the effect of the broadsides of a 
powerful fleet, poured at short range upon the American 
forces along the East River. 


A curious phenomenon permitted Col. Heed and his com- 
panions to clearly observe that fleet, at anchor near the 
Narrows. The dense fog, which covered both sea and 
land with an impenetrable cloud, was rolled away from 
the bay by a sudden shift of the wind, while it completely 
shrouded all objects upon the land. 1 "Within the 
Narrows, and close upon the Staten Island shore, lay at 
anchor a fleet of British transports and men of war, num- 
bering more than four hundred vessels, of all classes. It 
was apparent that some movement was in contemplation. 
Boats were passing to and from the admiral's ship ; and 
the three officers could not doubt that on the change of 
the tide, which was now ebbing, if the wind held in that 
quarter to which it had just shifted, and the fog continued 
to clear, all this immense fleet would sweep resistlcssly up 

1 Mr. Bancroft suspends not a little of the weight of his argument against 
the credibility of Gen. Reed's account of the circumstances which deter- 
mined the retreat, upon the improbability of the fog lifting so fortunately 
for his discovery of the British fleet getting under weigh. He apparently 
gives but little credit to Stedman, an officer serving under Sir Wm. Howe, 
whose voluminous history of the war is valuable, not only as bearing 
marks of fidelity to truth, but as being the testimony of an intelligent 
eye-witness. " On the evening of the twenty-seventh our army encamped 
to front of the enemy's lines, and on the twenty-eighth broke ground about 
six hundred yards from one of the redoubts on the (rebels') left. The 
Americans, finding that it was impossible to maintain their post on Long 
|sland, evacuated their lines on the twenty-ninth, and made good their re- 
treat to New York. At first the wind and tide were both unfavorable to the 
AfK ricans ; nor was it thought possible that they could have effected their 
retreat on the evening of the twenty-ninth, until about eleven o'clock the wind 
shifting, and the sea becoming more calm, the boats were enabled to pass. 

" Another remarkable circumstance was, that on Long Island hung a thick 
fog which prevented the British troops from discovering the operations of 
the enemy, /chile on the side of New York the atmosphere was perfectly 
char. The retreat was effected in thirteen hours, though nine thousand 
men had to pass over the river, besides field artillery, ammunition, provi- 
sions, cattle, horses and cans. 

" The circumstances of this retreat were particularly glorious to the Ameri- 
cans."-— Stcd nuni's American War, vol. i, p. JOT. 


ihe East Brw and complete the circle of the investment 
pf f lie American army. Twenty-seven thousand armed 
men on the land, aided by more than four hundred heavy 
guns, manned by six thousand sailors, would form an im- 
penetrable wall of environment about the few thousand 
soldiers of the republic, who were now sinking with 
exhaustion and despair. How soon the feeble batteries 
of Red Hook, Port Stirling on the Heights, and the Grand 
Battery on the lower end of !New York Island, would be 
silenced, the half ruined breast-works and dismantled guns 
of the redoubt in which they stood plainly showed. 

Col Eeed saw that there could be no hesitation, in view 
of the impending danger, as to wh at should be done; and, 
alarmed at its imminence, the three officers determined 
to return at once to Washington's head-quarters, and urge 
the instant withdrawal of the American armv from Long 
Island, as its only way of escape from utter destruction. 
The occupation and defense of the city of New York 
having been decided upon, Washington had clung with 
great tenacity to the possession of Brooklyn, as the only 
means by which it could be effected ; so that they felt much 
hesitation in pressing a proposition distasteful to him. 
There were many reasons which had forced this decision 
upon his judgment. The composition of his forces, un- 
fitted by their want of discipline for battle in the open field ; 
the imposing line of entrenchments and redoubts, which 
they then occupied; the possession of a rich city, with 
all its conveniences for camp and hospital, containing, as 
it did, almost the entire munitions of war of the nation — 
all combined to make the General averse to any proposi- 
tion for the abandonment of Brooklyn. 


Washington believed that battle was inevitable, at some 
period; that war could seldom be conducted without risk- 
ing everything on a great one ; and that, if bis troops did 
not fight behind their entrenchments, they could never be 
induced to stand the approach of the enemy elsewhere. 
For these reasons he had determined to try the fortune of 
war once more on the soil of Long Island. The intimate 
personal and official relations then existing between Gen. 
Washington and Col. Reed enabling the latter to approach 
the Commander-in-chief with the least embarrassment, it 
was decided that he should assume the delicate office of 
endeavoring to change his decision. On his return to 
head-quarters, the adjutant-general received the urgent 
message from Col. Shee, which had been borne by Capt. 

Col. Reed at once repaired to the camp of Col. Shee, on 
the "Wallabout, and there learned what strengthened his 
conviction, and armed his resolution with new arguments. 
The condition of affairs at this post was even more dis- 
heartening than when the Pennsylvania officers had first 
decided upon the hopelessness of their situation. It had 
become more and more evident, at each succeeding hour, 
that the militia could no longer be relied upon, even to 
hold their position behind the entrenchments, so great was 
the despondency produced by the disasters of the twenty- 
seventh, and by the exposure and fatigue of the subsequent 
days. It is peculiar to this class of troops, that the strain 
upon the nerves caused by a constantly dreaded attack, 
ever threatening, yet ever delayed, is even more demoral- 
izing than actual battle. It was now clear, that in their 
distressed condition, and their state of despondency, a 


rigorous assault would throw them into the most frightful 
consternation and disorder, from which no exertions could 
then restore them. These gloomy facts weighed with equal 
force upon the mind of Col. Shee and of Col. Reed, when, 
after a brief consultation, they parted. But of their deci- 
sion both officers and troops were kept in profound igno- 
rance. It is a curious and sad coincidence of fortune, 
that both these officers, to whose circumspection and 
promptness the safe retreat of the American army was in 
groat, measure owing, should, in a short time, have given 
reason for a suspicion of their waning patriotism. 

Col. Heed was said to have violated the confidence of 
bis General, a few months later, in writing disparagingly 
of him to the enemies whom faction had raised up against 
him in the American army ; and to have uttered language 
to Gen. Cadwallader, which, if not treason, appeared to his 
auditors to be the precursor of it. He was charged with 
taking the first step towards an accommodation with the 
enemy, of which nothing, it was said, but the victory at 
Trenton, and the consequent brightening of the American 
prospects, prevented the accomplishment. 

The other party to this important conference, Col. Shee, 
was an excellent officer, whose efforts for the health and 
comfort of his men were not the less constant and untiring 
because he was rigid in his discipline. He was remarkable 
for his attention to the official duties of his command, at a 
time when others showed a shameful laxity and indifference 
to them. The soldierly appearance and efficiency of Ids 
regiment were promoted by severe drilling, while his agree- 
able manners and gentleness of disposition prevented the 
loss of the esteem and affection of his soldiers. But all these 


admirable qualities availed him little, when his fortitude 
yielded to the impression of anticipations which saw all 

the weakness, and nothing of the future glory, of the cause 
he abandoned. The alarm which he felt at the startling: 
dangers of his situation never afterwards left him; for 
he soon after obtained a furlough, and never returned to 
his command. This abandonment of the cause of liberty, 
in its hour of greatest need, did not, however, disqualify 
him for the intimate friendship of Col. Reed, throughout 
the long years of the uncertain struggle which ensued. 

Among the numerous narratives of occurrences during 
the battle and. the siege, whose authenticity can only be 
adjudged from internal evidence, is that of a nameless 
soldier, who describes an incident not undeserving of our 
attention. 1 

The Connecticut regiment, whose courage had been 
so shaken on the afternoon of the twenty-seventh, in 
marching to Gowanus creek, were now encamped upon 
the sloping ground between it and the present course of 
Court street. The active foraofmo- within the lines had 
thoroughly stripped that territory of food ;• and, under the 
pressure of hunger, a number of the soldiers had the 
temerity to cross the creek, in search of supplies. Beyond 
the salt meadow which bordered it, a corn-field invited 
their attention, with visions of roasting ears tempting 
them to brave the dangers of crossing the open space 
between. Half way from the creek to the corn-field, rose 
a number of hay-cocks, which, it was hoped, would afford 
a slight screen from the enemy's view ; but, when gliding 

1 Adventures of a Etcolutionanj fioldier.^- Hallowell, 1S'20. 


about behind them, they were fired upon by a number of 
British troops, nearly equal to their own, who had been con- 
cealed in the corn-field. Removed beyond the depressing 
influence of their timid officers, the native courage of the 
men was brought into action; and rushing forward to the - 
fence which skirted the field, or sheltered behind the 
hay-cocks, they received the enemy with a sharp fire, 
holding him at bay until reinforced by forty or fifty of 
their comrades, who voluntarily crossed the creek to their 
aid. Their augmented numbers soon enabled them to 
drive their opponents from the fence and corn-field; but 
these, being soon reinforced in turn, drove back the Ameri- 
cans, who retired until joined by others, when they again 
pushed the British beyond the contested ground. Every 
moment increased the number of combatants, for the 
camp of the Connecticut regiment was almost deserted, 
and the creek and meadow, which were yesterday thronged 
with a defeated army, were now alive with the crowd of 
soldiers as eagerly crossing in the opposite direction, to 
fight instead of flying. Even the officers plucked up 
courage, and found sufficient resolution to enter spiritedly 
into the action, assuming command of their troops, and 
forming them in order for receiving the enemy's attack. 
The skirmish, begun by straggling soldiers, now assumed 
something of the proportions of a battle. Backward 
and forward, over the ground now crossed by Second and c 
Third avenues, flowed the tide of strife, until the increas- 
ing numbers of the Americans enabled them to completely 
rout the enemy, and drive him from the corn-field. Fear- 
ing, however, that the pursuit might lead them into a 
position from which the overpowering forces encamped in 


the vicinity might cut off their retreat, they contented 
themselves -with the possession of the contested field. 

And now succeeded one of the strangest incidents in 
the history of panics. The troops, whose courage had been 
so feeble the day before, passed beyond the bounds of 
courage to the wildest temerity. The faint-hearted and 
panic-stricken soldiers of yesterday, who, under the dis- 
heartening impressions of a first battle-field, resigned them- 
selves to the cowardly fears which oppressed them, were 
to-day fired with all the ardor of heroes, and voluntarily 
rushed forward into dangers ten-fold greater than those 
from which they so lately had shrunk appalled. 

Several of their number had fallen, though, owing to 
the protection of the stone walls and hay-cocks, none were 
killed; but some of the wounded were believed to be mor- 
tally hurt. What was the loss of the British, in the waver- 
ing fight was not ascertained. The regiment was unsup- 
ported in its mad enterprise, as no other troops guarded 
the neck, except the small garrison at Red Hook redoubt. 
Yet the officers and men seem to have adopted the desperate 
resolution of entrenching, and remaining on the ground. 
It is incredible that this insane enterprise could have been 
known to the commanding General; but, if it were, he 
abandoned ilie regiment to its fate, as reinforcements from 
his lines, if possible, would have hazarded too much for a 
, prudent commander to send them, even with a great 
military object in view. It illustrates the confused state 
of affairs at this period, and the wretched discipline of 
the army, that such a dangerous and aimless movement 
could have been made, unauthorized by his orders, and 
probably without ever coming to his knowledge. 


The regiment was now occupying the rising ground on 
the borders of the salt meadows, the position being covered 
with young forest trees, which the men quickly felled and 
constructed into a log breast-work that would protect them 
from a cavalry charge. It is probable that the temerity 
implied in a single regiment's occupying a position so ex- 
posed, thrust forw T ard a mile or more beyond the lines, 
with a deep and dangerous creek in its rear, appeared so 
incredible to the enemy, that he respected the movement 
on account of an importance and strength which only- 
existed in his imagination. 

There is nothing which produces such unexpected 
results as folly. The operations of reason are confined 
within a narrow zodiac; but the orbits of folly have an. 
eccentricity whose latitude can never be calculated. It is 
probable that the British officers, trained in a military 
school which taught them " always to expect the enemy 
to do what they themselves would do in the same situa- 
tion," could not comprehend, that a movement of such 
hazard should have been made by other than a powerful 
body of troops; and the day waned before they had 
decided upon their plan of attack. 

In the meanwhile a soaking rain fell upon the unshel- 
tered regiment, and so damaged the ammunition that it 
-was mostly unfit for use; and had the detachment been 
attacked in this condition, even by a 7Tiuck inferior force, 
the whole of it must have been killed or captured. The 
account we have of the affair, from one of the combatants, 
is so vague in its description of the localities of different 
events, as to leave it impossible for us to decide on which 
side of the creek the regiment was encamped at evening 


on the twenty-ninth, when it was paraded, and ordered to 
exercise in platoon-firing. This whimsical and dangerous 
manoeuvre, in the presence of the enemy, which under 
other circumstances might have caused a general alarm 
and movement of the American forces, was productive 
of one good result, in exhibiting the fact that, in conse- 
quence of the rain, the ammunition was nearly ruined, 
and the guns so fouled as to be useless until cleaned. 

This military exercise, continued until dusk, was not 
participated in by all the regiment; for long before that 
hour, numbers of the soldiers, to escape exposure to the 
showers, had straggled away to such shelter as the country 
afforded, and, unfortunately for themselves, had been suc- 
cessful in their search. The narrator of these incidents 
himself visited a barn, at the distance of half a mile from 
the camp, to procure some straw to protect him while 
lying on the wet ground; and was hailed from the top of 
the hay-mow, which nearly filled the building, by some of 
his comrades. After ascertaining his name, they exhi- 
bited an indolent curiosity regarding the engagement of 
their own regiment with the enemy, which the platoon 
firing had led them to believe must have taken place. 
From the dangers of this supposed battle, they had care- 
fully sheltered themselves, with a prudence which their 
previous daring would scarcely have led us to anticipate. 



The Retreat. 

Night came at last, to close the long, gloomy twenty- 
ninth of August. With grim tenacity, amid hunger, 
exposure, and defeat, the American army still held the 
lines of entrenchment around the village of Brooklyn. 
Still fell the rain in frequent showers, as on the preceding 
day; and still continued the skirmishing, along the line of 
entrenchments, now rising to the roar of battle, and now 
declining to the scattering fire of a picket guard. All 
day the heavy discharges from the battery in the British 
redoubt were sustained; concerning the effects of which 
on Fort. Futnam, at which they were principally directed, 
our patriot countrymen preserve their usual reticence. 
As evening drew on, and the gloom of the beclouded day 
deepened into the darkness of a stormy night, the noise 
of conflict ceased; but another sound, less alarming to the 
ear of the novice, but more ominous of approaching 
danger to experienced soldiers, broke upon the stillness. 
It was the heavy muffled clang of the enemy's entrenching 
tools, breaking the earth across the Brooklyn farms at a 
little distance in front of the entrenchments, and heaping 
it into a wall of circumvallation around the land side of 
the devoted town. It was remarked that the sounds of 
the besiegers' labor on their parallels, seemed much nearer 
than on the previous night. Xo better evidence was 


needed of the confidence felt by the enemy in the hope- 
lessness of the situation of their destined victims. Instead 
of assaulting their lines, to anticipate their possible escape, 
the British were only solicitous to hem them in with an 
impenetrable wall. 

Thus ended the third day of the siege of Brooklyn. It 
was now evident that a few hours would decide the con- 
flict. And, while the forces on either side pause inactive, 
let us glance at some of the obscurer causes which affected 
the minds of their commanders, and influenced their re- 
spective determinations. 

iNot the least among the sources of the demoralizing 
influences affecting the American troops, was the method 
by which their officers received their appointment. The 
various Committees of Safety, who recommended the 
officers for promotion, based their recommendations upon 
information obtained by an occasional visit to the camp, 
whose gossip and scandal were then as potent in making 
heroes or destroying hard-earned reputations, as are the 
newspaper reports of our day. 1 The popular origin of these 
revolutionary tribunals, compelled their members to listen 
with open oars to the whimpering tales of cowardly strag- 
glers. Not unfrequeutly the ex parte statements of skulkers 
from the duty of the camp, and the dangers of the battle- 
field, were the only trial which a brave and meritorious 
officer was permitted, before the infliction of a stinging re- 
buke from his State Committee, or the severer punishment 
of witnessing the promotion of some unworthy favorite over 
his head. An instance, not without interest to us, both 

'See Reed, note, p. 241 ; also GraydoiVs Memoirs, 


i q recount of its line illustration of the manners of the 
v_ui'\ and of its relation to the occurrences on the battle- 
field, is narrated by Capt. Graydon. 

A dancing master of Philadelphia, named Menzies, had 
by virtue of his skill promoted himself in the social rank 
to fencing master; and the Committee of Safety, conceiving 
that his management of the sword eminently fitted him 
for the office, had made him adjutant of one of the Penn- 
sylvania regiments. Engaged in the combat on the 
Flatbush hills, with what credit to himself or service 
to the republic we are not informed, when the fatal lines 
of Hessian infantry and British grenadiers had fully 
enclosed his broken and retreating regiment, this officer 
found all the avenues for escape completely barred. The 
dreadful massacre of his comrades had beo-un, and on 
every side he saw only an infuriated and merciless foe. 
By extraordinary good fortune and adroitness, he was 
enabled to secrete himself in a thicket of the forest, until 
darkness prevented the betrayal of his nationality by his 
uniform. On crawling from his concealment, he was 
enabled to answer the challenges of the Hessian sentinels, 
and the queries of their comrades — thanks to his Penn- 
sylvania Dutch parentage — in German. Thus allaying 
their suspicions, by excellent address, and equal fortune, 
he was enabled to elude the sentries, and to rejoin his sur- 
viving comrades within the Brooklyn entrenchments. 
His skill in the management of his feet had perhaps con- 
tributed to make him a fencer, and his adroitness with 
his hands had given him the rank of lieutenant; and now 
this fortunate use of his tongue was considered a warrant 
for his promotion over all the line officers to the rank of 


major. Thus rewarded for his good fortune in being 
noitlicr killed or captured, he served with credit, and 
proved a worthy officer; hut his good conduct did not 
exculpate the Committee from gross injustice to the meri- 
torious officers whom their favoritism had deprived of 
due promotion. And to the unfitness of many of the 
subordinate officers must be attributed the inefficiency of 
their troops. 

The behavior of the Pennsylvania regiments, however, 
throughout the week of skirmishes and the day of defeat, 
was in striking contrast to the insubordination, and even 
poltroonery, of some of the Xew England troops, and to 
the unreliable character of the Long Island militia. 
The roll of officers, whose services at this time deserved 
honorable mention, included many names of Pennsylva- 
nians. The brave Col. Hand, who commanded the rifle- 
men that were engaged in four severe skirmishes at 
Flatbush; the equally brave though less fortunate Col. 
Atlee, commanding Stirling's advanced guard at Gowanus, 
where he was taken prisoner ; Cols. Shee and Magaw, 
and Lieut. Col. Cadwallader — - these are only a few of the 
names of Pennsylvanians who deserve the grateful remem- 
brance of their countrymen. 

Nothing, however, relating to the affairs of the Revolu- 
tion, affects us with such astonishment, as does the conjunc- 
ture of three events, that seem inexplicable : — the neglect 
of Lord Howe to use the great armada he commanded 
in aiding his brother's movements on land ; the omission 
of Gen. Howe to secure the results of his great victory, 
by carrying the American entrenchments in an immediate 
assault; and, lastly, after the delay of "Washington to 


extricate his forces from their dangerous position imme- 
diately upon the defeat, his sudden and complete reversal 
of bis decision to fight a battle behind his entrenchments. 
Our surprise at the delay of Lord Howe is lessened when 
we learn that, for much of the time, the wind and tide were 
insurmountable obstacles to his advance; but other causes 
weighed heavier than all the anchors in his fleet in de- 
taining his ships from the passage between the batteries 
on Brooklyn Heights, and the heavy guns lining the Xew 
York shore. 

On the (twenty-eighth of June, just two months before, 
another British admiral had led ten vessels of war, carry- 
ing two hundred and sixty guns, in the endeavor to force 
a passage past a wretched redoubt on Sullivan's Island, 
in Charleston harbor. The loss of two hundred men, 
and the bare escape of his half-foundering ships from 
entire destruction, had seemed to Sir Peter Parker but 
slightly compensated for by the trifling damage inflicted 
on the Palmetto fort, and by the killing and wounding of 
thirty-two rebels. 

A month before, five vessels, of the fleet now under 
Lord Howe's command, had sailed up the !N"orth River, 
past the distant batteries on Paulus' Hook, and at the foot 
of Hubert street. Favored as they were, by a brisk gale 
and a strong flood-tide, they had nevertheless not sped so 
fast as to prevent their being hulled several times in their 
passage. These events afforded no favorable presage for 
Lord Howe's fleet, in attempting to force itb way into the 
East River. 

The influences which affected the mind of Gen. Howe, 
through the recollections of Ticonderoga and Bunker Hill, 


have already been referred to. But those which deter- 
mined the judgment of "Washington may claim a mo- 
ment's attention. 

He had witnessed, from the redoubt on the summit of 
Ponkiesberg, the total rout of Stirling's division, and the 
slaughter of the Maryland battalion. To protect the 
disarmed and exhausted fugitives from utter annihilation, 
and secure the withdrawal of his artillery, it was necessary 
that fresh troops should be immediately brought to their 
relief. For the purpose of expediting the march of these 
reinforcements, he had crossed the river to Xew York, 
and ordered every regiment which could be spared from 
its defenses to Long Island. The urgent necessity for 
the presence of these troops in the Brooklyn lines was 
too apparent to allow hesitation, as nothing was more 
probable than an immediate assault upon the works. 
Indeed, so imminent was it believed to be, that "Wash- 
imrtoms personal attention was s;iven to brino-ino- for- 
ward the troops to resist it. He had paused long enough 
to assure himself that the attack on the exterior lines had 
been made by the entire British army, whose long co- 
lumns, deploying into line of battle, could be seen by him 
from within his own lines. The presence of the British 
Commander-in-chief, and his Generals, indicated that every 
corps of the seventeen thousand men composing the in- 
vading force, was at length in the American front: and 
this was not only confirmed by the report of spies and 
fugitives, but was plainly -revealed by the' uniforms which 
distinguished them. The long lines of bright scarlet 
which stretched up the hills through the woods, now 
appearing in rank across the cleared fields, and now 


\ 'Sit 



f § 


»sS ■'• f ' / 

£ ., \-- V >■- >>■-• 



hidden by the dense foliage, marked the presence of 
Percy, and Cornwallis, with the grenadiers and infantry. 
Further to the south, on the hills above the Porte Road, 
heavy masses of men, in blue uniforms, faced with red, 
made it equally certain that De Heister and his eight, 
thousand Hessians were overlooking the feeble lines. 
Two miles to the right, at Gowanus, the force under 
Gen. Grant, which through the fatal night of the twenty- 
sixth had made such threatening demonstrations, and 
against whose delusive attacks Lord Stirling had all the 
morning breasted his feeble corps, menacingly rested on 
its arms. Close on the American left hung the strong 
reserve of Robertson, momentarily threatening assault. 

Thus Washington was certified of the presence of four 
heavy columns of the enemy, which had girt his army 
around as with a wall of steel. On front and flanks they 
1 thronged, with all the dread enginery of war ; the hills, 
which overlooked and governed his position, were crowned 
with their batteries ; and the woods and fields in his front 
swarmed with the squadrons which had overwhelmed one- 

ihalf his force, and now held the ground on which two thou- 
I sand of his soldiers were perishing with their wounds, or 
already silent in death. 1 But even from these sad events, 
and these ominous tokens of the future, the mind of 
Washington derived a knowledge which lightened the 
gloom that to every other mind seemed impenetrable. 
£[o more indubitable evidence of the greatness and calm- 
ness of his intellect is needed, than the confident decision 
it formed on the instant of overwhelming- disaster. Even 

1 Biking. 



while snatching from total destruction the remnants of 
the awful wreck around Mm, his mind had seized this 
great fact, which, amid the darkness of defeat, stood 
plainly revealed to him : — the entire forces of the enemy were 
in his front. The obscurity which had so long veiled the 
purposes of the foe had at last cleared away ; and the 
blow which for a mouth had hung impending over him, 
had fallen, but not on the vital part it had threatened. 
And now, his next step would be on firmer ground. 

Hitherto, it had remained uncertain, which of two 
movements that seemed equally to invite the enem} 7 to 
their adoption, would be chosen. Either promised bril- 
liant success to the British, whenever the combined fleet 
and army should use with vigor their formidable advan- 
tages of men and ordnance : while it was the misfortune of 
"Washington that he must manoeuvre his forces as if cer- 
tain of the performance of both designs. 

With all these facts before us, it is more than strange 
that it should have been left to the accidents of chance, 
and the influence of Col. Reed, to determine the mind of 
Washington, and induce him to yield the original designs 
of his judgment. It has not escaped the sharp criticism 
of historians ; and Mr. Bancroft throws much doubt upon 
the whole statement, as indicating a feebleness of decision 
in the Commander-in-chief, which his whole life belies. 
It is not necessary, however, for the refutation of the as- 
sumption of Col. Beed's personal influence, to invalidate 
the truth of the occurrence of the incidents narrated by his 
biographer. We cannot restrain our incredulous wonder 
that the apprehension of a danger so imminent should 
have come so late to the mind of Washington, and 


that a decision of such incalculable magnitude in its 
consequences, should have been left to the concurrence 
of such accidental and trivial incidents for its formation. 
The chance visit of the adjutant-general and his friends to 
the battery on Red Hook ; the fortuitous lifting of the fog 
for a single moment, which permitted them a glimpse of 
the fleet preparing to weigh anchor ; the timidity or cir- 
cumspection of Col. Shee ; and the energy, scarcely less 
than presumptuous, which urged the unwelcome view of 
the danger of his position upon the attention of Washing- 
ton, — were things so slight, that w r e hesitate to believe 
that they could have reversed the deliberate verdict of his 
judgment. Whatever had been his previous intentions, 
however, the action of the Commander-in-chief was now 
as prompt as his decision had seemed tardy. 

A council of war was at once convened at head-quarters, 
in the Pierrepont mansion, standing on the ground now- 
occupied by Montague street, near the foot-bridge. It 
was late in the afternoon of the twenty-ninth of August, 
when this memorable council met. It consisted of Maj. 
Gen. Putnam, Maj. Gen. Spencer, and Brig. Gens. Mifflin, 
McDougal, Parsons, Scott, "Wadsworth, and Fellows. 
Alas ! there was one, the bravest, truest soldier, whose 
seat at that council was unfilled, and whose place on 
earth would soon be vacant forever. The noble, gene- 
rous Tv oodhull was at this very hour dying of his wounds 
at Jamaica. There were other vacancies at that council- 
board, which could not fail to call up the saddest memo- 
ries. The heroic Stirling, whose self-devotion had nearly 
gained for him the palm of martyrdom, lay a prisoner on 
board of the enemy's fleet ; and the brave, impetuous 


Sullivan was fretting his fevered energy away, under the 
guard of British bayonets. Gen. Washington at once 
presented the threatening aspect of affairs, and solicited 
the opinions of the members of the council. There was 
no want of unanimity there. The presence of the awful 
peril which surrounded them, the necessity for instant 
decision, and the fearful consequences of the isolation 
of this wing of the American army, stilled all the sugges- 
tions of personal vanity or of selfish ambition; and the 
decision to abandon the Brooklyn lines, and retreat across 
the River, was at once taken. The council have left on 
record a full statement of the reasons for that determina- 
tion, from a perusal of which we can learn much of that 
traverse of thought by which it was reached. 

" Aug. 29th, 1776. It was submitted to the consideration 
of the council whether, under all the circumstances, it 
would not be eligible to leave Long Island and its depend- 
encies, and remove to i^ew York. Unanimously agreed in 
the affirmative, for the following reasons : *- 

First. Because our advanced party have met with a 
defeat, and the wood was lost where we expected to make 
a principal stand. 

Second. The great loss sustained in the death and cap- 
tivity of several valuable officers and their battalions, or 
a large portion of them, had occasioned great confusion 
and discouragement among the troops. 

Third. The heavy rain, which fell two days and nights 
without intermission, had injured the arms, and spoiled a 
great part of the ammunition ; and the soldiers, being with- 
out arms, and obliged to lay in the lines, were worn out, and 
it was to be feared would not remain in them by any order. 


Fourth. From the time the enemy moved from Flat- 
hush, several large skips had endeavored to get up, as 
supposed, into the East River, to cut off our communica- 
tion (by which the whole army would have "been de- 
stroyed) but, the wind being north-east, could not effect it. 

Fifth. Upon consulting with persons of knowledge of 
the harbor, they were of the opinion that small ships 
might come between Long Island and Governor's Island, 
where there were no obstructions, and which would cut 
off the communication effectually; and they also were 
of the opinion that the hulks sunk between Governor's 
Island and the city of !New York, were of no sufficient 
security for obstructing that passage. 

Sixth. Though our lines were fortified by some strong 
redoubts, yet a great part of them were weak, being abatiscd 
with brush, and affording no strong cover, so that there 
was reason to apprehend they might be forced ; which 
would put our troops in confusion, and, having no retreat, 
they must have been cut to pieces or made prisoners. 

Seventh. The divided state of the troops renders our 
defense very precarious, and the duty of defending long 
and extensive lines in so many different places, without 
proper conveniences and cover, so very fatiguing, that 
the troops had become dispirited by their incessant duty 
and watching. 

Eighth. Because the enemy had sent several ships of 
war into the Sound, to a place called Flushing bay; and, 
from the information received that a part of their troops 
was moving across Long Island that way, there was rea- 
son to apprehend they meant to pass overland, and form 
an encampment above King's Bridge, in order to cut off 


and prevent all communication between our army and the 
country beyond them, or to get in our rear." 

The preparations for this important movement, scarcely 
less fraught with danger than its alternative, were entered 
upon with the profoundest caution and secrecy. Every- 
thing which could convey the slightest intimation of the 
design to the enemy, was carefully avoided ; and never, 
perhaps, for a movement so important, were the plans 
more skilfully devised, or was the performance of them 
more exact, where a thousand untoward events might 
have destroyed them. It was little that the boats for trans- 
porting the army were abundant in !N~ew York. They 
must be gathered with expedition and secrecy, and the 
troops transferred to the opposite shore during the short 
night of midsummer. Even the management of the boats 
by skilled oarsmen was important ; for that service could 
not be left to the clumsiness of common soldiers. For- 
tunately, the necessities of the occasion were not greater 
than the means at hand for meeting them. Col. Glover's 
Marblehead regiment provided seven hundred of the 
ablest men for this service, whose stout arms could safely 
and swiftly pass the boats through the dense fog; and they 
were accordingly withdrawn from the extreme left of the 
line, for that purpose. 

At the same time that all the troops were warned to 
prepare for an attack upon the enemy, orders were quietly 
communicated to the alternate regiments along the front 
to full in line ; and long before those on the right; and left 
were aware of any movement, their comrades had silently 
moved away into the darkness, and the void was only felt, 
without being known. Often the first intimation that 


adjoining regiments received of the departure of those on 
ihoir right and left, was the whispered order to extend 
their own lines, and cover the space so mysteriously 
vacated. Again and again was this manoeuvre performed, 
on the constantly thinning line ; and one regiment after 
another flitted away into the gloom, until nothing hut 
a long line of sentinels occupied the hreast-works, and 
preserved the empty show of a defense. 

AYithin the little fort on Ponkiesberg, during the battle 
of the twenty-seventh, were stationed some of the Queens 
county militia. "Wliether this disposition of the forces, 
styled 'six months volunteers,' was made with, the design 
of securing the guns of the fort, or the troops themselves, 
we do not learn. 

It is especially noted, that a company commanded by 
Capt. Jacob Wright, enlisted principally from Jamaica, 
was here stationed; and, although its members may have 
been the more patriotic of the citizens of that town, yet 
when we remember what strong persuasions the provin- 
cial Congress was compelled to use in Queens county, it 
is difficult to repel the thought that apprehension of their 
loyalty may have influenced this disposition of them. This 
company, and another from Kings county, commanded 
by Capt. Van Xuys, were attached to Col. Lashers 
first Xew York regiment, which was engaged in the 
battle, and lost several of its officers, among whom was 
Major Abeel, who was slain. One hundred and twenty 
grenadiers formed a part of Col. Lashers command ; and 
when the plan of retreat had been decided upon, these 
men were disposed at regular intervals along the breast- 
works, each carrying, in addition to his musket, six hand- 


grenades. The narrator of this fact gives another state- 
ment, also, which indicates the minuteness of detail by 
which "Washington concealed his intentions, alike from tin- 
enemy, and from his own troops. Two regiments would be 
withdrawn in silence from the lines, and, after marching 
for some distance towards the ferry, one would -diverge to 
the right or left, and return to the entrenchments, while 
the other w T as pushed rapidly across the River. 

So perfectly was the mystery of the design preserved, 
by these manoeuvres, that it was the prevailing belief in 
the army that they portended a general assault upon the 
British lines on the morrow. There were not wanting, in 
so large a number of participants, instances of incaution, 
that might have betrayed the design to the enemy ; one of 
which, from the rank of the person, had almost the turpi- 
tude of crime. A soldier, who was being relieved from 
duty at the breast-works, overheard an officer say, in a 
tone of voice that might have been heard by the enemy 
bevond them, " We are going; to retreat." But this breach 
of discipline was very slight, compared with what the 
same soldier heard from the incautious lips of Gen. Put- 
nam. While the company of this soldier was in the act 
of being withdrawn in silence from the entrenchments, 
Putnam, in answer probably to a question, said, in a voice 
audible to more than one, that < the army was retreating.' 
There were within the Brooklyn lines at that time, hun- 
dreds of timid friends to American liberty, who would 
gladly have purchased thejr peace with the British go- 
vernment at the price of this information. Many a warm 
loyalist would have periled his life in conveying the as- 
tounding news to the British camp ; and then, woe to that 


drooping and flying army ! But the escape from the 
danger was another of those slender threads, on which 
hung the destiny of America. Strong enough for its pur- 
pose, nevertheless; for the Invincible arm sustained it. 

Xot far from Fort Putnam, and connecting with the 
Pennsylvania battalions, the worn survivors of Col. Small- 
u'ood's Maryland and Col. Iiaslett's Delaware regiments 
held a position believed to be one of the greatest danger, 
which was now increased, also, by the withdrawal of Col. 
Glover's Marblehead men. Torn with the shock of battle, 
and enfeebled by the terrible and exhausting exertions of 
its struggle, these brave men still kept the post of peril ; 
and on their courage and devotion the Commander-in- 
chief depended for covering the retreat. Orders had 
been communicated, soon after dark, to the battalions of 
Shee, Magaw, Smallwood, and Haslett, to hold themselves 
in readiness for an attack upon the enemy which was to 
be made during the night. The gloom of their appre- 
hensions, which inaction had deepened almost into de- 
spair, was not relieved by the prospect of a night assault 
upon an entrenched and wary enemy. Nothing could 
exceed the sad despondency which fell upon these brave 
and loyal troops, in this gloomy hour. Weakened by 
want of sleep and food for two days and nights, exposed 
to the inclemency of the elements, and depressed by the 
knowledge of the dangers which surrounded them, they 
realized how feeble would be the blow they could strike 
against their powerful opponent. Their ammunition was 
impaired by dampness, their guns were fouled by rain 
and rust, and few of their number were armed witli bayo- 
nets; while, added to these disqualifications for success- 


ful assault, they keenly felt the feebleness of the support 
to be afforded them by the unmanned and panic-stricken 
troops around. Awaiting their orders for the dread trial 
of battle, the officers of these battalions sadly conversed 
together upon the probable fate of themselves and their 
command, in this perilous enterprise. We have an au- 
thentic record of the sentiments, and currents of thought, 
which prevailed among these brave men ; and the tone of 
sad resolve indicates the magnitude of the peril of their 
situation. Few of them expected to behold the morning 
light. " It is," they said, " a forlorn hope, which none 
can expect to survive ; but it is our duty to obey like sol- 
diers.'' 1 And although their souls, inspired with nature's 
dread, shrank back from the dark abyss into which 
another hour might plunge them, yet the knitted brows, 
and stern features, were doubtless witnesses of a great and 
unflinching resolution which even the apparition of death 
could not shake. Each turned to the other, in the hope 
that his comrade would survive, with affectionate remem- 
brances for friends and relatives. And then there were 
softer messages for gentle ones, and declarations of 
bequests, and gifts of remembrance, which occupied the 
waiting hours of the earlier night. 

There was one among these young officers who dwelt 
upon the extreme rashness of the contemplated attack 
with growing incredulity. This gentleman was Capt. 
Graydon, who has left a most interesting and a perfectly 
truthful account of the events of the Revolution, in which 
he was an actor; and on whose mind, the object of the 

1 Graydon' 8 Memoirs. 


manoeuvre flashed in a sort of revelation. He saw that 
the retreat of the army from its dangerous position had 
been decided upon, and that the order for assault was a 
cover for the design. His surmise was quickly commu- 
nicated to his comrades; by whom, although at first 
they were incredulous, it was received like a reprieve from 
sentence to death. 

Midnight had come, and a deep low murmur was dis- 
tinguish ahle in the American camp, from which they were 
separated by a mile of unoccupied ground, that indicated 
some important movement now in progress, which the 
darkness entirely concealed. At length these muffled 
sounds died away, moving in the direction of the River 
two miles distant, until the only noise which broke the 
silence of the nisiit was the dull, threatening stroke of 
pick and bar, proceeding from the enemy's entrenching 

At two o'clock the sudden explosion of a heavy gun, 
apparently from one of the American redoubts on the 
right, burst with a menacing roar upon the night, and 
sent a shock to many an anxious heart. ( Was it the sig- 
nal for the expected assault ? ' or, ( "Was it the fire from a bat- 
tery, to repel an approaching column of the enemy V It is 
possible that the explosion was within the American lines, 
and caused by the friction of spiking the gun; but, from 
whatever cause, none who heard it probably ever forgot 
the awful sensations of overwhelming alarm and surprise, 
which rushed upon their minds. The intense and appall- 
ing darkness of the night, the strained faculties, the un- 
certainty as to the design of their movement, the terrible 
hazard of its issue, the great interest at stake, with the 


long interval of anxious suspense and fearful expectation 
broken suddenly by the loud roar of this explosion, — ■ 
these left nothing which the human soul is capable of 
feeling, to increase the shock of the sensation. 

Another of those slight filaments on which then hung 
suspended tremendous issues, is exhibited in an in- 
cident which very nearly threatened destruction to the 
American arm}-. And, as its story forms one of the most 
curious episodes of this great drama, we shall narrate it 
at length. 

One of the wealthiest and most reputable citizens of 
the village of Brooklyn, prior to the Revolution, was 
John Rapalj^e, whose story is already familiar to us. His 
dwelling house, situated near the River, between Fulton 
and Main streets, entirely overlooked the place of em- 
barkation for the retreating army; and within it sat a 
vindictive woman, brooding over her wrongs, who for an 
hour seemed to hold the destiny of that army in her hand. 
Constantly irritated by her enforced separation from her 
husband, Mrs. Rapalye had nurtured a spirit of hostility 
to the wJorigs, which fitted her for accomplishing a revenge 
so vast and sweeping, that one who had designed it might 
have shrunk at its magnitude and might. The frequent 
insults to which the loyalist families were subjected by 
the bitter partisanship of the times, thus kept alive resent- 
ments that only needed opportunity to be fearfully revealed. 

It is said that one day a party of the undisciplined 
soldiers who had gathered here for the defense of the Brook- 
lyn lines, who were exercising in artillery-firing on the 
Heights, in mere wantonness, or inflamed by the fierce 
spirit of party zeal, directed their guu upon the house of 


the tory Kapalye, and lodged a shot in its walls. 1 The 
opportunity for avenging such wrongs and insults as she had 
suffered, was now eagerly seized. The narrative of her 
action for that purpose, is from her own lips. 

Early in the evening her quick ears, made more sensi- 
tive by the watchfulness of resentment, had caught the 
sound of unusual movements in the camp of the Ameri- 
can army. Soon after, she noticed the gathering upon 
the shore, near the ferry, in front of her house, of great 
numbers of empty boats, which, for several days past, had 
been coming loaded to the water's edge with armed men. 
Xow, they floated by hundreds, as she could perceive by 
the boat lanterns, without other occupants than the oars- 
men. It was evident that some important movement was 
intended ; and when, at eight o'clock, the first detachment 
of the retreating army marched down to the water's edge 
and pushed off in the boats, the whole sagacious design, 
with all the vast advantages of a knowledge of it to the 
British, was revealed to her. A vindictive and resolute 
woman, fired with the keenest sense of injury and desire 
for vengeance, had penetrated the secret, on whose preserv- 
ation depended the lives of hundreds of her countrymen! 
"Woe to their firesides, and their loved ones, if her resolu- 
tion and her fortune should be equal. 

To convey the information to the British camp in person, 
was impossible; for she was too well known to hope 
to cross the American lines without suspicion. A negro 
slave was the only person available for her purpose; and 
to his feeble intelligence she w r as compelled to intrust the 

1 Tradition preserves the story that this outrage "was committed to pun- 
ish Mrs. Rapalye for ostentatiously persisting in drinking the proliibited Tea ! 


transmission of this momentous secret. He was immedi- 
ately dispatched with orders to communicate the intelli- 
gence to the first British officer he could find. The slave, 
favored by the darkness of the night, and aided by the 
craft with which the lower intellects are endowed, suc- 
ceeded in evading the American sentinels, and, after 
passing the lines of entrenchment, made his way to the 
nearest camp of the British forces. It seemed as if the 
hand of fate, reluctant to permit the escape of that doomed 
army, was touching the dial-plate of history, to turn the 
pointers backward a century ! But the malign purpose 
failed. At the very point of culmination, when the fate 
of the American army seemed irrevocably sealed, one of 
those slender yet invincible barriers which sometimes 
change the destiny of nations, was interposed, to prevent 
the fulfilment of the revengeful woman's project. 

The guard by which the negro was halted, was composed 
of Hessians, ignorant of the English language, and thus 
incapable of comprehending the importance of his mission. 
It is rendered probable, from this fact, that the black 
had found his egress from the American lines between 
Freeke's mill-pond and Fort Greene, in front of which 
portion of them the Hessians were encamped. Instead 
of conducting their prisoner to an English officer, by 
whom all the vast consequence of his information would 
have been instantly comprehended and acted upon, the 
captors committed the negro to the custody of a guard, as if 
suspecting him of some crime. The morning was breaking 
when an English officer visited the post, and heard his 
statement; but the camp was then already aroused with 
the same amazing news from other quarters. 


As already stated, it was eight o'clock in the evening 
when the first regiment was silently paraded, under pre- 
tense of attacking the enemy ; and it soon after crossed 
from the beach, between Fulton and Main streets. The 
embarkation took place under the superintendence of Gen. 
McDougal, who had been selected by Gen. Washington 
for this important office. To Gen. Mifflin, commanding 
the Pennsylvania battalions of Shee and Magaw, and the 
poor remnants of Cols. Smallwood's and Haslett's batta- 
lions, was confided the kindred and equal task of covering 
the retreat. Washington and his staff were on horseback 
during the entire night; and, as some accounts state, never 
left the Brooklyn ferry-stairs until the last of the troops 
had been embarked. We shall see, however, in the pro- 
gress of our narrative, that Washington's anxiety did not 
permit him to remain at this point during the whole 
period occupied by the retreat. The British historians of 
this campaign were fond of reiterating the charge that 
Washington, early in the evening, had sought security in 
Xew York. 1 Yet nothing is more certain than his con- 
tinued presence during the retreat, and his personal super- 
vision of the details of this wonderful military movement, 
which history has ranked among the greatest victories it 
records. All night long sat, on his gray horse, that grand 
figure, towards which were turned so many half- despairing 
eyes, that brightened when they saw that Washington 
was there. Every movement was executed under his 
personal direction; and so perfect was his anticipation of 
each emergency, that nothing was left to the hazard. 

l Knight's Pictorial History of England. 


of chance. One event alone occurred to mar the com- 
pleteness of the performance of this stupendous project; 
and to that the panic and insubordination of his troops 
largely contributed. 

The narrative of this, and of other incidents of that 
eventful night, by one of the actors in its scenes, is so in- 
capable of paraphrase or abbreviation, without injury to 
its dramatic interest, that it must be quoted entire. It is 
the brave Col. Hand who speaks : 

" In the evening of the twenty-ninth of August, 1776, 
with several other commanding officers of corps, I re- 
ceived orders to attend Major-general Mifflin. When 
assembled, Gen. Mifflin informed us that, in consequence 
of the determination of a board of general officers, the 
evacuation of Long Island, where we then were, was to be 
attempted that night ; that the Commander-in-chief had 
honored him with the command of the covering party, 
and that our corps were to be employed in the service. 
He then assigned us our stations, which we were to oc- 
cupy as soon as it was dark, and pointed out Brooklyn 
Church as an alarm post, to which the whole were to 
repair, and unitedly oppose the enemy, in case they dis- 
covered our movements, and made an attack in conse- 
quence. My regiment was posted in a redoubt, on the 
left [Fort Putnam], and in the lines on the right of the 
great road below [north of] Brooklyn Church. Capt. 
Henry Miller commanded in the redoubt. Part of a regi- 
ment of the flying camp in the state of Xew York were, 
in the beginning of the night, posted "near me; but they 
showed so much uneasiness at their situation, that I peti- 
tioned Gen. Mifflin to suffer them to march off. After 



that, nothing remarkable happened at ray post till about 
two o'clock in the morning, when Alexander Scammel, 
since adjutant-general, who that day acted as aid-de-camp 
to the Commander-in-chief, came from the left, inquiring 
for Gen. Mifflin, who happened to be with me at the time. 
Scammel told him that the boats were waiting, and that 
the Commander-in-chief was anxious for the arrival of 
the troops at the ferry. Gen. Mifflin said he thought 
Scammel must be mistaken ; that he did not imagine the 
General could mean the troops he immediately com- 
manded. Scammel replied that he was not mistaken, 
adding that he came from the extreme left, and had ordered 
all the troops he met to march; that, in consequence, they 
were all in motion ; and that he should go on to give the 
same orders to others. Gen. Mifflin then ordered me to 
call in my advanced pickets and sentinels, to collect and 
form my regiment, and to march as soon as possible; and 
then quitted me. Having marched into the great road 
leading to the Church, I fell in with the troops retreating 
from the left, of the lines; and, on arriving at the Church, 
I halted to take up my camp equipage, which in the 
night I had had carried there by a small party. Gen. 
Mifflin came up at that instant, and asked the reason of 
the halt. I told him, and he seemed very much dis- 
pleased: ' Damn your pots and kettles, I wish the devil 
had them; march on.' I obeyed, but had not gone far 
before I perceived the front had halted, and hastening io 
inquire the cause, I met the Commander-in-chief, who 
perceived me and said: < Is not that Col. Hand?' I an- 
swered in the affirmative. His Excellency said he was 

surprised at me, in particular; that he did not expect me 


to abandon my post, I answered, that I had not aban- 
doned it; that I had marched by order of my immediate 
commanding officer. The General replied that it was 
impossible. I told him I hoped if I could satisfy him 
I had the orders of Gen. Mifflin, he would not think me 
particularly to blame. He said he undoubtedly would 
not. Gen. Mifflin just then coming up, and asking 
what the matter was, his Excellency snid : < Good God! 
Gen. Mifflin, I am afraid you have ruined us by unsea- 
sonably withdrawing the troops from the lines.' Gen. 
Mifflin replied with some warmth : ' I did it by your 
order.' His Excellency declared that ' it could not be.' 

Gen. Mifflin swore, 'by I did;' and asked: 'Did 

Scammel act as an aid-de-camp for the day, or did he 
not? ' His Excellency acknowledged he did. < Then,' said 
Mifflin, 'I had orders through him.' The General re- 
plied: ' It is a dreadful mistake; ' and informed him that 
matters were in such confusion at the ferry, that unless 
we could resume our posts before the enemy discovered 
we had left them, in all probability the most disagreeable 
consequences would follow. "We immediately returned, 
and had the good fortune to recover our former stations, 
and keep them for some hours longer, without the enemy 
perceiving what was going forward. " 

From other sources we learn the frightful disorder into 
which affairs had fallen at the ferry, notwithstanding the 
efforts of "Washington and his officers to control the 
troops. The panic, which had never relaxed its para- 
lyzing: hold on the minds of the more craven, had now 
infected even the bravest; and it was only the noble 
fellows who still held the entrenchments that preserved 


their self-control and native courage. Within the lines 
resided a lady, whose husband and brother were officers 
of the American army, and present with their commands. 
Daring the dreadful uproar which prevailed, while the 
mob of soldiers, maddened by fear, was crowding the 
declivity from Sands street to the water, these officers, 
despairing of restoring order, and apprehensive of an 
immediate attack, rushed into the house, and desired her 
to fly with her child, as they expected every moment to 
be cut to pieces. The only avenue of escape was by the 
ferry ; but the fugitive lady found that an impassable 
barrier of men, rendered ungovernable by fright, cut off 
her access to it. With all her exertions and entreaties 
she could not approach nearer to it than a quarter of a 
mile; and so great were the trepidation and anxiety, 
that she saw the soldiers in the rear mounting on the 
shoulders of their comrades in front, and clambering 
over their heads, to be nearer the means of escape. 

•A nobler sentiment controlled the fears with which the 
dangers of their situation naturally impressed the minds 
of the soldiers of the covering regiments, on the extreme 
left. Appointed to be the last to retire, daybreak was 
appearing when orders arrived for them to march. Form- 
ing without delav, they took their route in silence along 
the "\Yallabout road toward the Brooklyn Church, when 
suddenly it was announced that the British light-horse 
were charging on their rear. Improbable as was the 
report, it was so vehemently urged that the regiment 
formed to receive cavalry, the front rank kneeling, ami 
presenting their leveled pikes, with which a portion of 
the men were armed, while their comrades stood behind 


with loaded muskets and fixed bayonets. Scarcely had 
the four "battalions recommenced their march, on discover- 
ing that they were unpursued, when it was found that 
the order to retreat was as unfounded as the alarm, having 
undoubtedly originated in the unfortunate error of Col. 

iSTew orders arrived, from the Commander-in-chief, to 
return, with the greatest expedition to their posts, and re- 
occupy the lines. It is difficult to conceive a situation ol* 
greater hazard, or one that would more severely try the 
courage of the bravest troops ; but we have already seen 
how noble sentiments, and generous self-devotion, in these 
brave men, could still the weaker yet not less natural 
emotions, of love of life, and regret at quitting it. 

Another hour dragged out its moments, each of which 
was golden with opportunity for the Hying army, yet ever 
threatening to change into iron hail. Still this noble corps 
waited, and waited, in stern silence, on that dim and me- 
nacing dawn, alons: the Brooklyn entrenchments, lately 
thronged with their comrades now safe across the Elver. 
On their firm courage, their sublime devotion of their lives 
to their country, depended the most tremendous conse- 
quences ; and the great task could only be accomplished 
by waiting, in the gloom of that sad morning, with an 
impassable River and a flying army in their rear, and the 
awakening hosts of a resistless and triumphant enemy in 
their front. There was nothing that they could do but 
stand and await the shock. 

One of this forlorn hope has left a record of their com- 
mon sentiment. The pangs of death would be but mo- 
mentary. One resolute rush of the enemy, one hot and 


murderous struggle, one irresistible torrent sweeping the 
parapet, and only to be breasted for a moment hand 
to hand, and all would be over ! It is the sublimest 
courage thus to watch and to endure. 

At length the imperative order came from Washington 
for the retreat; and, silent as they had stood through the 
long hours of that portentous night, they marched away. 
It was full time. The dawn was already struggling with 
the murky atmosphere which mercifully obstructed its 
rays. Already the enemy's scouts, and reconnoitering 
parties, warned by the unnatural silence, were stealing 
through the tangled abatis, and peering through the em- 
brasures of the redoubts, or cautiouslv raising their heads 
above the parapets, to pierce the mystery of this ominous 

Before daybreak, on the morning of the thirtieth, a party, 
composed of a corporal and six men, were reconnoitering 
the ground in front of the lines, and, finding no pickets or 
sentinels on post at that part of them, had pushed up 
close to the abatis. This they found much difficulty in 
penetrating, in the darkness ; but at four o'clock they had 
crossed the ditch, and were cautiously peering over the 
breast-works. The universal silence, which at first had 
made them approach with still, greater circumspection, 
now revealed the startling fact that the lines were aban- 
doned. The information was immediately communicated 
to Major Montrose, the officer in command of the ad- 
vanced guard ; and in thirty minutes the pickets were 
pushed forward into the American works. There was 
still time for a movement of the British forces that would 
have proved disastrous to a part of the retreating army ; 


but the same want of accord between the British general-. 
which had more than once interposed a barrier to their 
success, again interfered to prevent the complete tri- 
umph of the British arms. 

Gen. Robertson's brigade at this time occupied a posi- 
tion across the Jamaica and Gowanus roads ; his advance- 
being posted, as he asserts, at the distance of one hundred 
and twenty to two hundred yards from the American 
lines. The coolness that had been engendered by the 
events of the twenty-seventh, between Robertson and his 
Commander-in-chief, had not lessened in the interval, and 
the former seems to have determined that he would volun- 
teer neither action nor advice. Gen. Robertson admitted, 
on his cross-examination by Gen. Howe, that he received 
information of the evacuation of the American camp in 
Brooklyn, before seven o'clock; yet nearly two hours had 
elapsed before he actually marched a detachment of his 
brigade to occupy the abandoned lines. He declared, on 
his examination, that he was awaiting orders from the 
commanding General ; and seems to have been more ani- 
mated by a desire ^to fasten the responsibility of gross 
neglect and bad management upon his Commander, than 
to avail himself of his important advantage. An hour 
previous to Robertson's movement, his pickets, light- 
horse, and advanced posts, had been in possession of the 
American redoubts and fortified lines. 1 

'At half-past eight the first brigade, commanded by Gen. Robertson in 
person, entered the lines ; and soon after the fog so lifted that from the bill 
near High street, be could just discern the last boats of the retreating 
Americans push off from the shore, while the further side of the River was 
covered with those who had already made good their escape. So close were 
the British upon the rear of the Americans that several stragglers were 


Four hours of the summer's morning had passed, and 
still an obscurity as of night hid the great events which 
were transpiring. Amid the gloom moved one majestic 
form, controlling the elements of discord, and struggling 
with inexhaustible energy, to master even the apparent 
decisions of fate. Unshaken by the terrors of that dread- 
ful night, unmoved by the appalling clangers that threat- 
ened every instant to overwhelm that throng of despairing 
men, he sat on his gray battle horse, by the Brooklyn, 
ferry, through those long hours of dismay, like the genius 
of destiny. On that stern, calm face, the conflicting 
emotions which swelled his heart, left no trace. All 
the tremendous possible disasters must have been clear 
to his apprehension. He saw how T those thousands of 
unmanned and terror-stricken soldiers, would melt away 
before the awful storm of shot and shell that in another 
hour might rain upon them. He saw the enemy's batte- 
ries, of forty guns, wheel into position for close firing, on 
the hill at Concord and Prospect streets. Fifteen thou- 
sand bayonets gleamed on his vision as they sunk to the 
irresistible charge. And two thousand cavalry swept 
before his mental vision, in pursuit of the wretched fugi- 
tives who still survived. Thus, conscious of the dangers 
which impended, and unappalied by their imminence, he 

tilled, or taken prisoners ; among v." bom were three soldiers who had lin- 
gered to plunder, and on the approach of the advanced guard of the British, 
had hastened to their boat, but who were fired upon and compelled to yield. 
The light troops of the British readied Fort Stirling an the Heights in time 
to withdraw the spikes from the abandoned guns, and open fire upon some 
of the retreating boats. Notwithstanding the haste of the evacuation the 
British found but twenty-six guns, in the redoubts and fortifications; and 
these had been made as nearly useless as the necessity for silence and expe- 
dition would permit. 


sat amid the tumult, whose genius was to mould these 
unpromising elements into a result that should vindicate, 
for all time, his unequalled power and endurance. Thus, 
tireless in energy while danger was nigh, and last in 
retreat when it was over, Washington, always greatest 
when everything seemed lost, saw his army extricated 
from the jaws of a destruction that had almost closed 
upon it. 

There was one officer, who, at the little village of Ja- 
maica, had listened with anxious ear to the distant, boom- 
ing of the cannon on the day of battle, who was now 
passing the last ordeal of humanity. The high station 
which he had held in the councils of the revolutionists, 
the grand moderation of his character, combined with the 
firmness, patriotism, and self-devotion for which he was 
remarkable, would under any circumstances have given 
him an honorable reputation. But when the acts of his 
pure life were crowned with the final sacrifice of martyr- 
dom, Gen. "Woodhull's name was enrolled among his 
country's noblest heroes. So much sorrow and indigna- 
tion has his fate elicited, that the partisans of the 
murdered General and of his slayer, though a century 
is closing its shadows over the event, are still hotly con- 
testina; the indictment brought against the latter, bv 
historians who have weighed the testimony on either side. 

Gen. Xathaniel Woodhuli had been earlier called into 
the service of his country, than many of his brother ofli- 


cers; for, like Washington, he had acquired some know- 
ledge of military life in the old French war. He had 
been chosen President of the provincial Congress of New 
York, in which sat such distinguished revolutionists as 
Jay, Livingston, Schuyler, and Benson. At an early 
period in the formation of a military force, "Woodhull had 
heen appointed Brigadier-General of the State levies; and 
he commanded the district including the counties of Loner 

It was considered important by the provincial Congress 
that Wbodhull, from his intimate knowledge of the Island, 
should take personal command of the militia drafted from 
its towns ; and, accordingly, soon after the landing of the 
British forces, he left the presidential chair for the open 
field. Information had reached E*ew York that the 
enemy's troops were suffering from want of fresh provi- 
sions ; and to prevent them from receiving a supply 
was to be the first object, of "\YoodhulPs attention. The 
ungracious task fell to his hands, therefore, of depriving 
his old neighbors of their cattle and grain. 

From Yellow Hook to Jamaica, all the horses, cattle, 
and swine, were swept out in great droves upon the plains 
of Hempstead, or gathered within the Brooklyn lines. 
Columns of smoke, over every farm, indicated the work of 
destruction, in the burning stacks of grain and provender. 
The inhabitants were permitted, by the orders of the 
provincial Congress, to retain only that portion of their 
crops which was absolutely necessary for the sustenance 
of life. One cow, and one horse, was left in each neigh- 
borhood of three or four families. The provincial Con- 
gress had most unaccountably delayed the execution of one 


important military measure until the 24th of August, two 
days after the landing of the enemy. This was the levy 
en masse of the militia of the Island. The inhabitants of 
Kings county, thus hurriedly armed, together with the 
Suffolk and Queens county regiments, commanded by 
Cols. Smith andRemsen, were placed under the command 
of Gen. Woodhull. Notwithstanding the provincial Con- 
gress of New York had fully provided for retaining its 
authority over the militia of the colony, by the appoint- 
ment of its President to the command, that body, jealous 
of its own authority, or distrustful of the ability of its 
officers, still dictated the movements of the forces under 
their command. Gen. Woodhull was directed by this 
unmilitary authority to perform a service unworthy of his 
rank, and at a hazard which, perhaps, it was impossible 
for even military genius to foresee. Congress, by resolu- 
tion, had provided for his support by the Long Island 
regiments of militia under Smith, and Remsen, but the 
exigencies of the service prevented this. 

Washington replied to the delegates of Congress, that 
' lie was afraid that it was too late to accomplish its tardy 
resolve of driving off all the cattle, and securing the 
provisions,' but gave his consent to detach Smith's and 
Remsen's regiments on that service. Congress at once 
directed a letter to be sent to "Woodhull, informing him 
that these troops had marched, and would join him imme- 
diately. In the afternoon of the same day, the General 
received another letter from Congress, in which they 
notified him that they had adopted resolutions, two 
days previously, which prescribed the mode in which they 
wished their orders carried out. 


So express and definite were these, thafWoodhull must 
have felt that lie was devoting himself to almost certain 
destruction in performing them, if Remsen's and Smith's 
regiments should fail to come up. How sensible he was 
of the imminent danger of his position, may he seen from 
his letter, in which he states his belief that these officers 
and troops would not be able to reach him. In the perusal 
of it, with a full comprehension of the dangers closing 
around him, we cannot withhold our sad admiration of the 
self-devotion and heroism which he exhibited: "I am 
now at Jamaica, witb less than one hundred men ; having 
brought all the cattle from the westward, south of the 
hills, and having sent them off with troops of horse, with 
orders to take all the rest eastward of this, to, and east- 
ward of, Hempstead plains, and to put them into the fields, 
and set a guard over them. The enemy, I am informed, 
are entrenching: from the Heights southward. 

" I have now received yours, with several resolutions, 
which I wish it were in my power to put in execution ; but 
unless Cols. Smith and Remsen, mentioned in yours, join 
me with their regiments, I shall not be able; for the 
people are all moving east, and I cannot get any assistance 
from them. I shall continue here as long as I can, in 
hopes of a reinforcement; but if none comes soon, I shall 
retreat, and drive the stock before me into the woods. 
Cols. Smith and Eemsen, I think, cannot join me. Un- 
less you can send me some other assistance, I fear I shall 
soon be obliged to quit this place. I hope soon to hear 
from you." J 

1 Letter dated Jamaica, August 27th, 1776, and directed to Tin- Honorable 
tlio Convention of the Statu of New York, at Haarlem. 


It is evident that this letter was written on the morning 

of the twenty-seventh, before the sound of the enemy's 
guns had announced the closing of his lines around the 
fated Sullivan and Stirling. 

The unskilful generalship of the provincial Congress, 
had at length brought on the catastrophe which a divided 
command must always produce. General "Woodhull, in- 
stead of being directed to employ Capt, Suydam's troop of 
horse, and the cavalry from Queens county, in patrolling 
the road to Flatbush, where it was known the enemy was 
encamped in heavy force, was compelled, by the unmili- 
tary council of legislative warriors, to perform the insig- 
nificant duty of herding cattle. In a milita ry point of view, 
nothing more was necessary to guard against the surprise. 
of the American army than to have extended Sullivan's 
left wing, not along the hills to Jamaica, but from near 
the Clove road to the head of any of the runs emptying 
into Canarsie Bay. As a defensive line in that direction 
was impossible, from the perfectly level character of the 
ground, and the small numbers who could be spared for 
its occupation, this part of the line should have been 
patrolled by numerous videttes. 

For the command of such a service, Gen. Woodhull was 
well fitted, by his experience iu the wild warfare of the 
French campaigns ; and the troops of country horsemen 
were admirably adapted to perform the duty. Perfectly 
familiar with the wood-paths which threaded the forest, 
then covering the hills from 2\e\v Utrecht to Jamaica, the 
advance of the British columns could not have been made 
so silently that some of those watching them would have 
failed to reach the American lines with the intelligence. 


At ten o'clock the reinforcements, promised so confi- 
dently by Congress, had not arrived ; and at that hour the 
roar of the enemy's artillery, answered by the heavy guns 
on the American fortifications, afforded sad evidence 
to Gen. \Yoodhull that his prognostications in his letter to 
Congress had been fulfilled, and that it was too late for 
reinforcements to reach him. 

The repeated embassies to Gen. Washington from Con- 
gress had failed of persuading him to weaken his forces 
manning the Brooklyn intrenchments, already attenuated 
to the mere shadow of a line of defense. The Com- 
mander-in-chief at length positively declined to detach the 
two Long Island regiments from his army, for a distant 
and unimportant service; wondering, probably, at the quiet 
audacity of the assumption by Congress of his incompe- 
tence to command. 

To the peril of his own situation, WoodhulPs knowledge 
of the weakness of the American forces now added the 
most anxious apprehension for their safety. His scouts had 
informed him that the .British had turned the American 
lines; and the fugitive inhabitants, who fled past him 
toward the east, kept him constantly informed of the 
advance of their outposts. Although he knew that rein- 
forcements from Brooklyn were no longer possible, he 
still expected that troops would reach him by crossing the 
East River to Flushing bay, and marching across the Xew- 
town and Jamaica hills. 

To expedite the arrival of these troops, and thus enable 
him to hold a position that would check the enemy's ad- 
vance eastward, he sent Jonathan Lawrence, his brigade 
Major, to the Convention, to enforce his representations by 


a personal appeal. A few hours previously he had written 
to that body as follows : 

" Enclosed 1 send you a copy of a letter from Col. Pot- 
ter, who left me yesterday at eleven o'clock, after bring- 
ing about one hundred men to me at Jamaica. 

" Major Smith has, I expect, all the rest who were to 
come from Suffolk county. There have about forty of the 
militia joined me from the regiments in Queens county, 
and about fifty of the troops belonging to Kings and Queens 
counties, which is nearly all I expect. I have got all the 
cattle southward of the hills in Kings county driven to the 
eastward of the cross road between the two counties, and 
have placed the guards and sentries from the north road 
to the south side of the Island, in order to prevent the 
cattle going back, and to prevent the communication of 
the tories with the enemy. I am within six miles of the 
enemy's camp. Their light horse has been within two miles ; 
and unless I have more men our stay here will answer no 
purpose. "We shall soon want to be supplied with provi- 
sions, if we tarry here." l In this painful state of uncer- 
tainty, Gen. Woodhull remained through the twenty- 
seventh, worn down with anxiety regarding the issue of 
the battle, which he knew bad terminated in the advance 
of the British lines. 

AVith the difficult task to perform, of sweeping a wide 
extent, of country of sustenance for the enemy; his com- 
munications with head-quarters cut off; his command 
scattered so widely on their service as to be unavailable for 
defense ; and the enemy's light horse pushed upon the main 

1 Letter dated West End of Queens county, August 27th, 177G. 


road within two miles of his post — he was surrounded with 
elements of danger sufficient to have justified the aban- 
donment of such a perilous and detached position, in the 
judgment of most officers. 

There was, however, in the calm resolution of the old 
Presbyterian General's mind something of the stern indif- 
ference to results which characterized his Puritan ances- 
tors, when employed, as they were wont to believe, as mere 
instruments for the purposes of the Almighty. It was well 
said by the historian, Silas Wood, " that the nature of the 
service in which the General w r as employed, and the force 
placed under him, were alike unworthy of his command." 
But it was indicative of the purity of his patriotism that he 
accepted at once a position in which he could be useful, 
though a more ambitious officer would have rejected it 
with scorn. "He had more military experience than 
most of the early officers of the revolutionary army, and 
no one in this State promised to make a better general 
officer." 1 

The failure of Congress to hold a session on the twenty- 
seventh, contributed to the melancholy result of the expe- 
dition ; for his express returned on the morning of the 
twenty-eighth, with no other answer to his communica- 
tion than a copy of the previous resolution of Congress. 
The great herd of cattle and horses on the plains, already 
half-famished for water, with which that vast prairie was 
so ill supplied, had been still further augmented in num- 
bers, on the twenty-seventh, by the cattle from the rich 
farms of Newtown ; and during the night, the General had 

1 Appendix 4 ; letters from Journal of the Provincial Congress, pp. 273, '270. 
folio. Woods L. 1., p. 315. 


removed his bead-quarters to Carpenter's Junction, on the 
main road, two miles east of Jamaica. 
. It was here, on the morning of the twenty-eighth, that 
he wrote his last letter to the provincial Congress, almost 
the last official act of his life : 

"I wrote two letters to you yesterday, one by express, 
and another hy Mr. Harper; and also sent my brigade 
Major to you, to let you know my situation ; and I expected 
an answer to some of them last night; but my express in- 
formed me he was detained till night for an answer. I 
have now received yours of the 28th, which is only a copy 
of the last, without a single word of answer to my letters, 
or to the messages of my brigade Major. I must again let 
you know my situation. I have about seventy men, and 
about twenty of the troop ; which is all the force I have, or 
can expect, and I am daily growing less in number. The 
people are so alarmed in Suffolk that they will not any 
more of them march ; and as to Cols. Smith and Eemsen's 
regiments, they cannot join me, for the communication is 
cut off between us. I have sent about eleven hundred cattle 
to the great fields on the plains yesterday. About three 
hundred more have gone off this morning, to the same 
place; and I have ordered a guard of one officer and 
seven privates. 

" They can get no water in these fields. My men and 
horses are worn out with fatigue. The cattle are not all 
gone off toward Hempstead ; I ordered them yesterday, 
but they were not able to take them along. I brought yes- 
terday about three hundred from "Newtown. I think the 
cattle are in as much danger on the north as on the south 
side; and have ordered the inhabitants to remove them. 


If you cannot send me an immediate reinforcement I 

am "i * * * 

The abrupt termination of this letter is indicative of the 
harassing nature of the service in which Woodhull was 
employed. Major Lawrence had meantime appeared on 
the floor of Congress, and delivered his urgent message 
from the General. He stated also, that Dr. Abraham 
Riker had informed him, on his route, that the British 
had posted themselves during the twenty-seventh on the 
ridge of hills between ISTewtown and Jamaica, and, al- 
though they had entered many of the houses, none of these 
had been plundered of any thing but food. Congress 
could do nothing more than order the Major to present 
the request of Woodhull to Gen. Washington, with the 
information which he possessed of the route by which 
Smith's and Eemsen's regiments could still reach the 
position of the former. 

Mr. Van Wyck was on the same day ordered upon the 
perilous duty of a spy. He was directed to proceed imme- 
diately to Flushing, then known to be patrolled by scout- 
ing parties of the enemy, and obtain intelligence of their 
number and situation. He was also directed to obtain 
accurate information of the posts held by Woodhull ; and 
to immediately dispatch a boat, conveying his message, 
through Flushing bay to ISew York. An important part 
• of his duty was to ascertain and report upon the most 
favorabl e rou te for forwarding reinforcem cuts. What more 
Mr. Van Wyck accomplished than to write a letter to 
Congress, containing, the information demanded, we shall 

1 Journal of Provincial Congress. 


never learn; as lie probably fell, soon after, into the hands 
of some of the advanced guards of the British. 1 

It was not until the morning- of the twenty-eighth that 
Congress sent Major Lawrence to Gen. Washington, with 
TToodhull's letter of the day previous, enclosed in one from 
that body. 

One day of disaster had destroyed the military energy 
of these civic Generals; but they were still ready to proffer 
their advice to the Commander-in-chief upon the unfortu- 
nate subject of the cattle, the care of which had led to such 
great misfortunes on the day previous, — which misfortunes 
were to be crowned with one of less magnitude, but 
scarcely less sad, before the close of the same day. They 
stated that it was their opinion, that the stock on the 
Island might yet be removed beyond the enemy's reach, 
by the aid of Smith's and Eemsen's troops; and that it was 
still practicable for this detachment to reach "Woodhull, 
by a circuitous route. 

Around the position of Gen. Washington, and his little 
army on Long Island, at that hour were closing in the fate- 
ful lines, beyond which all was gloomy and threatening as 
the grave. He had little time, and no troops, to spare for 
an exigency so distant, while the existence not only of 

1 Flushing, Aug. 28th, 1776. 
To the Provincial Congress : 

Gentlemen : I am informed by Thomas Thorn, a member of the committee, 
who has just come from Gen. Woodhull, that he was at Jamaica, and that he 
himself had just come from Whitest one ; that the ships of war lay between 
Thorn's Point and Great Neck ; and that there can be no dangerin bringing 
up our men to this place, if we can ^et them up this evening. I think it will 
be proper to send this intelligence off as soon as possible, by the same boat, 
as I cannot get. any other. 

I am just going to Jamaica to the General. 

I am, Gentlemen, Your most obedient, humble servant, 

Con's VanWyck. 


himself and his army, but of that very Congress, hung even 
then upon a hair. lie still replied courteously, though the 
half-promise of two days previous was now changed to a 
firm refusal of the request. In his letter he indicates a 
plan of reinforcing Gen. Woodhull from Connecticut, by 
the detachment of a thousand men by Gov. Trumbull. 
Nothing now remained, that Woodhull could be expected 
to do, except to return beyond the reach of the enemy, or 
to gather in his little force on the best defensible position, 
and resist their advance to the last. The humane heart 
of Woodhull rejected this last alternative, from regard to 
the lives of his men, as promptly as his courage and self- 
devotion made him disdain the other. 

Every communication from the Convention, whose 
officer he was, exhibited their strong desire that he should 
retain his position in the western part of Queens county, 
and encouraged him to expect a reinforcement. Xot only 
had no intelligence been received from that body to the 
contrary, but the delay of Major Lawrence, who was de- 
tained by the Convention, strengthened his conviction that 
the reinforcement was on the march. 

To have retreated, under such circumstances, seemed to 
him a violation of military rules, and might have subjected 
him to the imputation of a dishonorable neglect of duty. 
It was in this emergency that the lofty disregard of per- 
sonal security exhibited itself in his decision. 1 

Under all the uncertainties of his position, a brave man 
might have retired without shame; but a noble and con- 
scientious one always decides on the side of self-sacrifice. 

1 Silas Wood's Skitch of the Settlement of Long Mand. 


lie adopted the course which his own delicate ol 
honor and of duty dictated, and resolved not to retreat 
until he was relieved from his perilous service by absolute 
orders from the Convention. Unwilling that hia com- 
mand should share his peril, the General ordered his troop-, 
on the morning of the 28th, to take a position about four 
miles bey oiid Jamaica, while he returned thither, accom- 
panied only by an orderly or two, to receive the expected 
message from the Convention. There he awaited its 
arrival, until late in the afternoon ; and then returned 
slowly to his head-quarters of the day hefore, only on 
receipt of the intelligence that the Tiritish outposts were 
being pushed rapidly toward the village. 

It was five o'clock in the afternoon hefore his confidence 
in the power and intention of Congress to reinforce him 
was broken, and his high sense of honor permitted him to 
ahandon his post. 

lie had scarcely quitted the village of Jamaica before 
the spell which had seemed to hold in check the British ad- 
vance of light guards was broken, and a squadron of fierce 
troopers was riding hard in his pursuit, The enemy had 
been informed, the day before, that a rebel General was 
holding a position at Jamaica, with considerable force ; and 
they were unwilling to attack, with a detachment of only 
a few hundreds, what might prove a formidable work, de- 
fended by a large "body of men. Some of the tories, who 
swarmed in the neighborhood of Jamaica, had afterward 
reached the British lines, and informed young Oliver 
De Lancey of the true position of the American General. 

A squadron of the 17th regiment, of British dragoons was 
mounted in haste, and pushed on in his pursuit, accom- 


panied by a detachment of the 71st infantry, and guided 
by loyalists who hoped to be revenged for the loss of 
their horses and cattle, and to repay the Jong debt for the 
insult and harrying to which they had been exposed 
during the past year. Unchecked by the bursting of one 
of the fierce thunder-storms which occur so frequently 
on our sea-coast at that season, De Lancey's troops rode 
furiously into the village of Jamaica, stopping at the 
houses indicated by their tory guides to capture such 
rebel officers as had been quartered in them. Col. Robin- 
son, who had occupied a room in the house of Mrs. Cebra, 
had but a few minutes before mounted his horse at the 
door, to accompany G<m. Woodhull; and one Robert 
Moore, of Newtown, answered their rude summons on 
its panels. The sanguinary intentions of the troopers to- 
ward Col. Robinson, were fully indicated by the savage 
cruelty which they exhibited toward Mr. Moore; and 
their undiscriminating fury throws light, upon the gloomy 
incidents which followed. AYithout questioning his iden- 
tity, though evidently mistaking him for the Colonel, they 
hacked at Moore with their sabres, until his hand was 
nearly cut from his arm. 

Mr. Onderdonk obtained much information from the 
traditions of the neighborhood, and, in some cases, from 
the persons who were contemporaries of the tragic events 
■ we are seeking to elucidate, which throws not a little ] i irl 1 1 
upon the obscure history of those events. He says that 
there is little doubt that the light horse were expressly 
detached for the purpose of capturing "Woodhuil and his 
command, and of securing the great herd of stock which 
they had collected. 


Among the persons whose testimony Mr. Ondcrdonk 
secured, was Major William Howard, who, at the great 
age of eighty-six, retained still the most vivid recollection 
of the events of the Revolution. 

Major Howard said that on the night of the 26th, before 
the battle, the light horse, who acted as scouts, heard from 
the tories where \Toodhull's party lay, and started with 
the expectation of effecting its capture. Exaggerated ac- 
counts of the number of his force were, however, received 
so constantly from the country people, that the light horse 
became alarmed, and soon returned without ever having 
seen AYoodhull or liis troops. Others narrate that on the 
day succeeding the battle, the troop of light horse was again 
detached upon the same enterprise, and entered Jamaica 
just as the inhabitants were engaged at their evening meal. 
The object of their advance was apparent, as they every- 
where made inquiries concerning AVoodliull's position. 
They stopped before the house of Robert Hinchman, a 
well known whig, who, on perceiving their approach, ran 
out of the back door, but was intercepted in his flight by 
the soldiers who had already surrounded the dwelling, ex- 
pecting, doubtless, to find Woodhull quartered there. Air. 
Hinchman was seen by his family surrounded by the in- 
furiated soldiery, apparently about to cut him to pieces, 
while he was upon his knees, with uplifted hands, as if to 
ward off their blows. Discovering that he was not their 
intended victim, the captors spared his life, but placed him 
in confinement that night, and marched him away with 
the other prisoners the next day. 

.Discovering that their intended victim had escaped, 
they pushed on to the eastward in pursuit. The devoted 


General j meanwhile, unconscious of the approach of his 
pursuers, had reached his quarters of the day before, at the 
inn of Increase Carpenter. This house possesses a his- 
toric interest, aside from having "been the scene of the mas- 
sacre which followed. It was within its walls that the first 
revolutionary gathering on Long Island was held, and that 
the first resolutions expressive of patriotic sentiments were 
adopted. A narrow farm-lane ran at right angles to the 
road, up to the hills, then as now covered with a dense 
forest, and extending parallel with the main road, from 
which they were distant about half a mile. 

The inn was the ordinary Dutch farm-house, with a hall 
running through the centre, the back door of which opened 
upon an enclosure, bounded on one side by the rail-fence 
along the lane. To one of the fence posts in this lane, or 
beneath the shed in close proximity, the General secured 
his horse; apparently with the intention, should a sudden 
advance of the enemy's pickets be made, of riding unob- 
served up to the woods on the hills, where, in the gloom 
of the evening, he would have been safe from pursuit in a 
few moments. Woodhull had scarcely seated himself, 
when the dragoons of De Lancey appeared almost at the 
door, the roar of the thunder and the beating of the torrents 
of rain having deadened the sound of their horses' hoofs. 
Every indication is given by his actions that Gen. AYoocV 
hull had become aware of his danger, but had resolved to 
risk everything rather than abandon a position which 
might be of vital consequence in the plans of the Com- 
mander-in-chief. On reaching Carpenter's tavern his 
first act had been to order Col. Robinson forward, remain- 


ing himself, without attendance, in the still lingering hoi 
of receiving sonic communication from the Congress. But 
that fatal illusion, horn of an excessive confidence in tlii 
body, was now rudely dispelled. The shouts of the eager 
dragoons as they dashed up to the door, led on hy the ton- 
Smith, an ostler, who guided them, first warned him of hia 
imminent danger. The General sprang to the rear hall- 
door, which was secured with one of those ponderous 
latches whose handle forms part of a huge knocker, and 
the unfastening of which cost him some precious moments 
of time. Once in the enclosure, his first effort was to 
reach his horse in the lane ; and it was while in the act of 
clearing the fence, close to the head of the animal, that he 
was overtaken hy the dismounted dragoons, who had 
plunged through the hall in pursuit of him. The scene of 
sickening murder which followed is scarcely paralleled in 
history, since civilization forhade the slaughter of prisoners 
as a privilege of the conqueror. The wretched and cow- 
ardly officer who first reached the General, has had the 
rare good fortune to have a strange obscurity thrown orer 
his identity. Capt. De Lancey is admitted to have com- 
manded the troops in person, and has been solemnly 
charged with the crime of murdering the venerable man, 
who had surrendered unresistingly to his demand. Silas 
"Wood does not appear to have been aware of Col. Troop's 
letter; for he attributes the massacre to one Major Baird, 
of the 71st regiment. The ruffian, whichever of them it 
was, approached the General with the exclamation, "Sur- 
render, you damned rebel!" Without making a single 
motion that could be construed into resistance, "W oodhull 
at once tendered him his sword. 


ITnappcased by Ibis act of submission, the officer, with 
still uplifted sword, demanded in an infuriated tone, 
" Say, God save the King! " 

Tbe devoted General, undaunted by bis violence, 
only replied in a calm tone of dignity and courage, " God 
save us all! " " God save tbe King ! Say, God save tbe 
King!''* sbouted tbe brutal leader, as be aimed tbe swift 
blows of bis sabre at tbe defenseless bead of tbe old Gen- 
ral. Tbe instinctive raising of bis arm at this attack, was 
but to protect bis bead and face from tbe sabre cuts ; and 
it was only wben both were frightfully backed, that he 
fell to tbe ground, without uttering other words than of 
regret that he bad surrendered. The sanguinary ruffian 
would undoubtedly have completed bis murderous design, 
in putting tbe General to death, had lie not been pre- 
vented by another officer possessing more honor and 

From the place where he fell ^Voodbuli was removed 
a few feet, to the foot of a maple tree which grew near 
tbe ball door; and there, bleeding nearly to death, he lay 
until the troops, fearful of being intercepted by some of 
"Woodhuli's force, departed in as great haste as they had 

Gen. "Woodhull, the blood still streaming from his 
wounds, was mounted behind one of the troopers, and 
hurried back to Jamaica. He was placed in Mrs. Hinch- 
man's tavern ; and although Drs. Ogden and Minema o'l 
that place waited upon him for the purpose of dressing 
his wounds, they were refused permission, and a British 
surgeon was directed to perform that service, which he 
did with much kindness and skill. The wounds on Wood- 


hull's person were ten in number — seven deep gashes on 
liis arm, nearly severing it in more than one place from 
his body, and three on his head. 

The fortitude with, which vVoodhull met his misfortune 
exhibits the repose of a mind prepared for all ills, by a 
consciousness of unblemished honor and fidelity to duty. 
During the evening, while lying in Ilinehman's inn, and 
in great torture from his wounds, he was visited by Miss 
Cebra, at whose house he had probably lodged, and on 
her entrance said: "Madam, I understand you are Mrs. 
Kobinson's sister," and, with his sound hand drawing a 
silver spoon from his pocket, he said: "Take this, Ma- 
dam, and hand it back to Mrs. Kobinson. She gave it to 
me some time ago, when I was about to take the field ; 
1 For/ she said, c I suppose you will not always have con- 
veniences for eating when in camp.'" Miss Cebra care- 
fully preserved the General's hat, and for several years it 
was kept by his family as an evidence of the fierce blows 
which were iniiicted upon him. His shirt sleeve was 
observed by the lady to be cut through in seven places. 
Alter such of the villagers as were permitted to see 
him had retired, he said to Mrs. Hinchman, "Don't leave 
me all night with these men ; " to which the hostess 
replied, *'You need not be uneasy about that, General; 
I shall not sleep this night." At some time during the 
night, or upon the next morning, he was removed to the 
old Presbyterian Stone Church, and confined there, with 
many other whigs who had been dragged from their 

On the twenty-ninth, Gen. Woodhull, in company with 
the rest of the Jamaica prisoners, was removed to the Xew 

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Utrecht church, which, being a Dutch Presbyterian house 
of worship, was unceremoniously used as a prison. The 
inhumanity of his captors was carried to an extraordinary 
extent in his removal; for at first they insisted upon 
his walking to Xew Utrecht, with the other prisoners. 
Whitehead Hicks, a well-known gentleman of Jamaica, 
had previously offered the use of his carriage for the con- 
veyance of the wounded General; but the kind offer wo 3 
rejected, incredible as it may seem, by Sir William Ers- 
kine, then in command. Another prisoner, Daniel Lam- 
berson of Jamaica, having been found too ill to walk, the 
officers compelled him to take his own vehicle, called a 
chair, and the General was permitted to be conveyed in it. 
Mr. Onderdonk, who has been indefatigable in collecting 
the incidents of WoodhulPs capture and death, is of the 
opinion that the General and the other prisoners were first 
taken to Howe's headquarters in Brooklyn, for registration, 
and adds: " We know nothing of the place or manner of 
his confinement, until about a fortnight after, when he was 
brought on board a prison-ship at 1n~cw Utrecht." Among 
those who were confined with him was the saintly Elder 
Daylis, whose blindness seemed to hove intensified his 
patriotism and piety. His voice possessed an almost un- 
earthly sweetness, and he often sang in his imprisonment, 
with the fervor of a martyr, the old songs of faith and 
triumph, which he knew so well. The dying General must 
have heard these strains of victory over the pangs of 
human torture, and echoed back in his soul, accusiomed 
to be conqueror in such trials, all their peans of triumph. 
That he was communing with his Maker, in whose pre- 
sence he had no dread of appearing, we can have uo 


rational doubt. Judge Jones says somewhat scoffingly of 
him, in his manuscript history of the war, " WootlhuU was 
a rigid Presbyterian." 

The frequent change of disposition of their prisoners by 
the British at this time, indicates the uncertainty with 
which they viewed their possession of the country they had 
conquered; for in a day or two an old transport ship, named 
the Pacific, dropped down to Gravesend, and all the pri- 
soners from Xew Utrecht and Flatbush were placed on 
board of her. 

The horrors of the prison-ships, a species of awful cru- 
elty which Spanish inquisition never invented, were here 
first inaugurated. On board the Pacific, officers and 
men were crowded so densely together, that not all could 
sleep at the same time; which inconvenience, shared alike 
by the wounded and the whole, together with the almost 
total deprivation of food, seemed to warrant the suspicion 
that the British officers, unwilling to endure the odium of 
putting them to death by the sword, had determined to 
effect their destruction by the more silent instrument of 

Two days of this horrible torture, the spectacle of which 
was too painful for even the inhumanity of the officer in 
command, were endured; and on the 2d of September, a 
vessel, described by one of the prisoners as the Snow Men- 
tor, was brought alongside, and the officers transferred to 
her, apparently as a measure of humanity. 

It is painful for us to be compelled to believe, from the 
overwhelming evidence before us, that this mean craft was 
selected for a prison with the most malignant intelligence. 
The vessel had been used fur the transportation of cattle 



from England, and was, of course, filthy as a stable, with 
their ordure; although the relief from the horrors of the 
prison ship Pacific was so great as to he spoken of with 
gratitude. The wounded and now dying General was laid 
on the floor of the foul cabin ; and, but for the kindness of 
a subordinate officer, who, shocked at the infliction of 
all this needless suffering, presented him with his blanket, 
he would have been stretched upon the bare planks almost 
naked. The officers who accompanied him could assist 
him but little, for many of them had been stripped of all 
their upper clothing by their Hessian captors. We have 
the evidence of his condition, and of the inhumanity of his 
captors and jailors, from the testimony of several officers 
who were his companions on the Snow. One of these 
officers was Lieut. Robert Troop, of Col. Lasher's battalion 
of ISTew York Militia; a gentleman whose subsequent 
bravery in the service raised him to the rank of Colonel, 
and whose character, through his whole life, entitled his 
statements to the most implicit credence. 1 Soon after 
his release, he made, under the solemnity of an oath, a de- 
tailed narration of the horrors of the imprisonment on 
board of the Mentor, which were almost too frightful for 

The combined horrors of mutilation, exposure, starva- 
tion, and imprisonment in the loathsome cattle ship, had 
-now accomplished their work. 

It became evident to even the most indifferent of the 
heartless wretches who surrounded him that the General 

1 Colonel Troop was in after lift' tlie personal friend and political associate 
of Jay and Hamilton, and of stainless honor. Sabine's Loyalists, p. 367. 
See Document IIS. 



was dying; and, in a momentary impulse of humanity, or 
from wholesome dread of reprisals in kind from the rebels, 
he was removed to a house adjacent to the New Utrecht 
church, where, on the twentieth of September, after the 
amputation of his wounded arm, he expired. 

Yet even while his eyes, glazed with the chill of death, 
were closing on all earthly scenes, the spectacle of his 
countrymen, suffering from starvation and wounds, rose 
before his vision. 

With his dying breath he briefly greeted his beloved 
wife, who had just arrived, and immediately directed that 
the wants of the American prisoners, then almost perishing 
from starvation, should be supplied from the provisions 
brought from his own farm. With these noble words of 
self-forgetfulness on his lips, the spirit of Nathaniel Wood- 
hull passed away. 





<§w$xm of QmMtowity fBfa&mw 



3/X -5<g 


[ ^ T °- i. ] 

B. G. the Earl of Stirling to Colonel Ward. 

" Head Quarters, New York, March 8th, 177G. 

"Deak Sir, — I write this letter to you in the utmost 
confidence of secrecy, and therefore, no man but yourself 
is to see it. It is absolutely necessary to prevent the 
communication between the ship Phenix, which lies off 
the west eu^ 0I> Long Island, below the Narrows, and the 
people of that part of Long Island ; but more especially 
to take or destroy a certain Frank James, a pilot who now 
assists Captain Parker, who commands the Phenix, in 
decoying and taking vessels of great importance to the 
cause we are now engaged in. There are some other 
pilots serving Captain P. in the same way, whose names 
I am not informed of, but they are well known to Mr. 
Christopher Duyckinck, who with three or four other 
guides will attend you for the purposes hereinafter men- 

" You will pick out of your regiment two of the most 
alert officers, with two parties of about twenty men each, 
to be supplied with twenty rounds of ammunition and 
three days' provisions ready dressed, who, with these 
guides are to proceed to the places they will show them, — 
conceal themselves as much as possible from the people of 
the country, — take such stations as are most proper for 


securing or destroying such pilots, or any persons belong- 
ing to the man-of-war. It will be best that the two 
parties march from your quarters to-morrow evening, a 
little before moon-rising, so that the men may arrive at 
their stations before daylight; and it will be absolutely 
necessary that the officer of each party consult with, and 
put the utmost confidence in the guides assigned to them. 
When the parties have taken their stations, they should, 
if possible, without firing, or by any means alarming the 
man-of-war, or the country, prevent any boats from leav- 
ing the shore; and the shortest way to effect this, will be 
for single men, about daylight, to examine the shore, and 
with their hatchets cut a hole or two in the bottoms of all 
the small boats they find there, and. to remove to some 
secret place the oars, paddles, or sails. 

" You will see the necessity of this matter being con- 
ducted with secrecy and alertness ; and I doubt not you 
will choose your men accordingly. 

"lam, &c." 

[Ducr's Life of Lord Stirling, p. 135.] 

[ No. 2. ] 

Letter of Gov. Tryon to Lord George Germain, guaranteeing 
the loyalty of the inhabitants of Long Island. 

[The true sentiments of the inhabitants were clearly 
indicated by the widely different effect of the summons to 
arni3 by the Provincial Congress and that issued by the 
Royal Governor a few weeks after the battle of the 27th.] 

My Lord : On the 10th instant I reviewed the Militia 
of Queen's County, at Hampstead, when eight hundred and 
twenty men were mustered ; and on Thursday following, 
I saw the 'Suffolk Militia at Brockltaven, where near eight 


hundred men appeared, to all of whom, as well as to the 
Militia of Queen's County, I had in my presence an oath 
of allegiance and fidelity administered, the form of which 
is herewith transmitted. 

I took much pains in explaining to the people (having 
formed them into circles) the iniquitous arts, etc., that 
had been practised on their credulity, to seduce and mis- 
lead them : and I had the satisfaction to observe among 
them a general return of confidence in Government. A 
very large majority of the inhabitants of Queen's County 
have indeed steadfastly maintained their royal principles, 
as have small districts in Suffolk County. Some men from 
South and EasUwnpton townships, who attended the review, 
assured me, Rebel parties from Connecticut were then on 
the eastermost part of the island, and which prevented in 
general the settlers in that, quarter from attending my 
summons; but that they are very desirous to live under 
a peaceable obedience to his Majesty's authority. The 
enclosed letter from their Presbyterian minister will more 
fully explain their sentiments. 

Three companies, I learned, had been raised out of 
Suffolk County for the Hebel army; most of whom, I was 
made to understand, would quit that service, if they could 
get home. 

I have the pleasure to assure your Lordship, through 
the whole of this tour I did not hear the least murmur of 
discontent, but a general satisfaction expressed at my 
coming among them; and to judge from the temper and 
disposition I perceived in them, there is not the least 
apprehension of any further commotions from the inhab- 
itants on Long-Island ; all arc industrious in bringing to 
market what provisions the island affords. 

# • . r * # # * # * 

While on Long-Island, I gave certificates to near three 
hundred men, who signed tire Declaration prescribed by 


the King's Commissioners' Proclamation of Die &0th No- 
vember last. Large bodies of the people have already 
taken the benefit of the grace therein offered them. 

[Force's Am. Archives, vol. in, 177G, folio 1404.] 

[ IS T o. 3. ] 

General Greene to General Washington. 

[Col. Edmund Fanning enlisted the greater part of his 
corps from Long Island of which he was a native. His 
infamous career of debauchery and extortion in North 
Carolina, and the terrible punishments inflicted upon him 
by an outraged people, form a chapter of no small interest 
in its history. The character of the loyalist recruits, as 
given by Gen. Greene, was not such as to make them 
greatly feared. While in command on Long Island, the 
General writes respecting some of its tories who had been 
arrested :] 

Saturday, twelve o'clock, July 27, 1776. 

Dear Sir : I have examined the prisoners, and find 
them to be a parcel of poor, ignorant, cowardly fellows. 
Two are tailors, and the other two are common labourers. 
They candidly confess they set off with an intention of 
going to Staten-lsland, but not with any intention of join- 
ing the enemy, but to get out of the way of fighting here. 
I believe the true reasons of their attempting to make 
their escape were, there has been a draught amongst the 
Militia to fill the new levies, and it was rumored these 
were a part that were drawn. It was also reported they 
were to go into the Xorthern Army, and that almost all 
that went there died, or were killed. The prospect was 
so shocking; to them and to their grandmothers and aunts. 


I believe they persuaded tliem to run away. Never did 
I see fellows more frightened; they wept like a parcel 
of children, and appear exceedingly sorrowful. ... I 
beg your Excellency's direction how to dispose of them ; 
they don't appear to be acquainted with one publick 
matter; they have been Toryish, but I fancy not from 
principle, but from its being the prevailing sentiment of 
the County. . . . 

I have the houor to be, your obedient servant, 

Nat it. Greene. 

[Force, Archives, 5th series, vol. 1, pp. 621, C22.] 

Letter from Benjamin Sands, Chairman of the Committee of 
Safety for Great Neck, to the Provincial Congress of New 
York, in reply to the circular soliciting evidence against nine- 
teen residents of Queens County, carried prisoners to Phila- 
delphia, and sent back to Neio York for tried. 

District of Great Neck, Cow Neck, &c, 
March 9, '76. 

Sin : The committee have received a letter from your 
honorable body, of the loth of "February, and as far as lay 
in their power, complied with its contents. 

"But surely [you will say] you could have collected 
more proof than all this? " The answer is ready. Their 
meetings were confined to their own party, their conclu- 
sions kept as secret as possible, added to our living in a 
remote part of the county, rendered our abilities unequal 
to the task. 

We are, however, able to give an imperfect account o\ 
our own district, wherein lives but one of the proscribed. 
And as this great man has been- supposed by many the 
main-spring in keeping up the divisions in this county, it 


may be a sufficient excuse for our being tedious on thia 

We shall therefore, with the utmost humility, proceed 
to put our scattered materials in order, for the considera- 
tion of your honorable body. 

Soon after this gentleman left the General Assembly, 
he appears in the light of a disperses of the " Queens 
County Freeholder." 1 The design of this paper is glaring 
on its whole surface. 

IJe next appears the author of the Hempstead resolves; 2 
and as the Queens County Freeholder levelled its whole 
force at the verv essence of a Continental Congress, so 
these resolves struck at the total overthrow of Provincial 

Soon after the Battle of Lexington, this gentleman 
roundly avovrs that the Bostonians fired first on the King's 
troops, 3 and that more of the Bostonians were killed than 
of Che Regulars; but as the public prints gave the lie to 
this proposition, it became necessary to erect a new 

Hence he asserts the newspapers are lies. 4 He had, he 

said, private information that might be depended upon. 

But this having no other foundation than his own asser- 

tions. the means were unequal to the end. Here, with an 
air v? importance equal to its absurdity, [lie] asserts, 
u Capt. McDougal says * it is necessary to print untruths'' 
to keep up the spirits of the people, 5 and Capt, St. Thome 
[says he] is my author, who heard him say so.'* 

The populace took fire like hasty combustibles, and 
although Capt. Thome denied the essential part of the 
charge, yet it was impossible fully to prevent its effects. 

Soon after the order of the respectable committee of 
safety for collecting some arms in Queens county (see 36), 
this gentleman attacks the right, and openly declared 
that they were an unconstitutional body, who bad no legal 


existence, and that he was determined to resist the order; 
but had it been the Continental Congress [he said] lie 
would Have submitted publicly, for Tie did not deny their 

authority, but spoke respectfully of them. 

"But what [said he] is to be done for our friends in 
Boston — the friends to order and good government — and 
loyal soldiery, that arc supporting the rights of the States 
and the very being of the constitution, who are starving 
by means of a restrietory Act?" ""Why, this," says he, 
"I'll do—" . 

"I'll charter Capt. Thome's sloop 7 and send them 
provisions," notwithstanding an order of the honorable 
Congress to the contrary. 

Mark the gradual steps of this gentleman to something 
of more alarming dye : for things were no sooner ripe, 
than he attacks the honorable Continental Congress itself; 
hence s he has openly asserted he knew no such s [elf con- 
stituted au]thority, and declared they were in conse- 
quence unconstituti] onal. 

ISTot content with dispersing a scandalous libel; fabri- 
cating seditious resolves; declaring our bleeding friends 
in Boston the aggressors; alarming opposition by our 
great loss; discountenancing our public prints; defaming 
our respectable committee of safety; denying the authority 
of our honorable Continental Congress; but [he] begins 
an open attack on our grand resource, the continental 
currency, also. 

Hence he asserts, "I take no continental currency 9 
unless for a bad debt : " and getting one of these bills on 
this ground, expressed his uneasiness to pay it away as 
soon as possible. " But we see [you'll say] no accounts of 
the formation of committees who protested against your 
spring and fall county meetings for deputies. We sec no 
proof of the meeting previous to their getting powder from 
the Asia, nor any of the proscribed being concerned in 


that aflair." Very true; for this proof is not in our 
power. "Why, you might have cited some of their 
second rate leaders, and by that means got proof to your 
satisfaction." What effects the solemnity of your honor- 
able body might have on them, we do not pretend to 
determine; but we have tried the experiment in our own 
little sphere, and found it entirely in vain. We fear you 
are tired through this long detail. 

So con [scious of the importance of the subject, we are] 
determined to persevere [in the discharge of our duties.] 

We are, sir, 

Your very humble servants. 
Signed by order, 

Eenj. Sands, Chairman. 

1 Witness — Dan'l Whitehead Kissam, of Cow Neck. 

a Witness — John Burtis, tanner, of Co"vv Neck. 

3 Witness — Henry Stoeker, Capt. Richard Thome, of Great Neck. 

•Witness— Olmdiah Derailt, of Cow Neck. 

6 Witness — Ann Rapelje' of Cow Neck. 

6 Witness — John Burtis, tanner. 

7 Witness — Caleb Corn well, Cow Neck. 

8 Witness — Rich'd Thome, Capt. Thomas Williams, North Side. 

9 Witness — Henry Stoeker, Great Neck; Thomas Williams, North Side. 

[Onderdonk's Revolutionary Incidents of Queens Co., p. 48.] 

P.S. We have cited , Esq., an inactive Whig, 

for interrogation, who evaded attendance on pretence of 
business. We suspect him too good an evidence to escape 
your notice, a3 well as to convince him that all business 
must bend to the preservation of his country. 

To Col. Xath'l Woodhull, 

President of the lion. Provincial Congress. 


[ 2*0. 4. ] 

[On the 21st of May, Washington, then about to proceed 
to Philadelphia, addressed a letter of instructions to Gen. 
Putnam regarding the loyalists on Long Island, which 
evinces his anxiety.] 


To Maj. General Putnam, 

Sir: I have reason to believe, that the Provincial Con- 
gress of this colony [Xew York] have in contemplation a 
scheme for seizing the principal Tories and disaffected 
persons on Long Island, in this city, and the country 
round about; and that, to carry the scheme into execution, 
they will have recourse to the military power for assistance. 
If this should be the case, you are hereby required during 
my absence to afford every aid, which the said Congress, 
or their Secret Committee shall apply for. I need not 
recommend secrecy to you, as the success you must be 
assured, will depend absolutely upon precaution, and the 
despatch with which the measure, when once adopted, 
shall be executed. 

General Greene will, though not in person perhaps, 
have a principal share in ordering the detachments from 
his brigade on Long Island ; of course he will be a proper 
person to be let into the whole plan. I would, therefore, 
when application is made by Congress, have you and him 
concert measures with such gentlemen, as that body shall 
please to appoint, and order the execution with as much 
secrecy and despatch as possible, and at the same time 
with the utmost decency and o-ood order. Given under 


my hand at Head-Quarters, in the city of New York, this 
21st day of May, 177G. 

[Spnrks's Letters of Washington, vol. in, p. 397.] 

[ No. 5. ] 

Letter from Benjamin Bird-sail, at New Haven. 

New Haven, Nov. 25th, 177G. 
Gentlemen — I think myself bound in duty to let you 
know the several transactions past, and the present unhappy 
situation lam now laboring under in the unnatural contest 
between Great Britain and America. In the first of the 
disputes, for a just cause, I. took the part of America, and 
continued it for a long time, through many dangerous and 
difficult contests, against my friends, relations and almost 
all sects and ranks of denominations, in particular in my 
own county. I was appointed one of the county com- 
mittee, aud from that a lieutenant-colonel in the second 
battalion in our county; and while in the service of the 
committee, it took nearly all my time in service with 
the committee and attending the different companies, 
with many adjournments to choose their officers for the 
militia, I being appointed as a sub-committee for that 
purpose, and continued it until the whole districts were 
divided and the ofiicers chosen ; and was, by the request 
of the inhabitants, 8 or 10 days with a petition from the 
inhabitants to the Convention at the "White Plains, con- 
cerning the removing the stock from the island. In 
all which time I bore my own expenses and received 
nothing for any of the service. And as for the service of 
a colonel — myself and two more officers were appointed 
and ordered by the county committee to secure all the 



boats on the south side, from Eockaway to Iluntingtown 
line, which is 18 miles distance; 7 miles distance I col- 
lected all the boats together and secured them by a sentry, 
106 in number; and if the other 11 mile.-: distance had 
been as well secured, by collecting the boats together and 
a guard kept over them, it would have cut off the com- 
munication between our south and the man of war, and 
saved 100 and odd hay boats that the tories carried off to 
the Ministerial fleet and sold them for their service. Well, 
when the quarter draft from the militia upon Long island 
was made out, Suffolk county had the commanding officer 
of the regiment, Colonel Smith, in his full rank with full 
pay. iSTow, if I know anything about the arrangement of 
officers, the next in command ought to have been a lieu- 
tenant-colonel out of one of the 3 regiments of Kings 
County, or the 1st or 2d in Queens ; but the 1st, Colonel 
John Sands, was appointed, and must take the rank and 
pay of lieutenant-colonel, and the 2nd major of Colonel 
Rampson's regiment, in his full rank and pay, and Ben- 
jamin Birdsall, a Lieutenant-colonel, to take rank and 
pay with the captains, under command of a 2d major. 
The arrangement of the officers in Colonel Smith's re^i- 
ment appears to me as remarkable almost as the conduct 
was bad in the field officers in breaking up the regiment 
in the manner which they did. This appointment of 
Colonel Smith's regiment was noticed by some certain 
field officers who had been up to Hampstead, and being 
acquainted with me, I was fixed upon, some few days 
before the King's troops landed upon Long island, to go 
through with a number of men on the south side from 
Rockaway to Iluntingtown, 18 miles distance, to destroy 
or secure all the boats and bring in all the^fat cattle in the 
lines to General Greene, and after, in his absence, General 
Sullivan; which I executed without favor or affection (and 
among my neighbors and relations), until the King's 


troops landed upon Long island; and then I was obliged 
to press 6 wagons and 12 horses, among my nearest 
neighbors, to carry down the baggage of about 200 of our 
troops, who were sent for by express by General Sullivan 
to march within the lines; and as soon as we got within 
the lines, I was sent by General Sullivan immediately up 
about 30 miles with a small party of men, after 70 odd fat 
cattle that we had left collected together; I went, and 
brought the cattle safely in around the north side of the 
island, Monday night, and Tuesday morning, before day, 
the engagement began, when I took my post upon the 
lines, and continued till Thursday afternoon ; and Friday 
morning, sun about an hour high, by General Putnam's 
orders, I went over to Long island with 6 boats, to fetch 
a number of horses and other things, until the regulars 
came down, fired four shot upon 2 of the boats, a little 
behind ; and from that I brought up the rear of Colonel 
Smith's regiment, (sick men from New York, without 
money,) who would have been left had it not been for me ; 
which I hope may be made manifest in your presence, the 
3 field officers and myself face to face before you, which 
may right many other transactions, that ought not to be 
left in darkness. I am now joined in Colonel Living- 
ston's regiment, where are about 68 of Colonel Smith's 
men. I have left a wife and G children upon Long island, 
and all I have is under the command of the King's troops; 
it is not in my power to relieve them. I set out, with 
heart and hand, to risk my life in defence of our cause, 
and am still willing to do it; the continuance of the war 
is promising so fair, that I will now offer myself at your 
service to engage in it so long as the war may continue; 
place me in my rank, give me a chance to execute my 
conduct, and I doubt not but it may be said, there is one 
man upon Long island, and in Queens county, has taken 
up the cause of his country from the first, and has con- 


tinucd in it firm and steadfast to the last, for the support 
and protection of his family and to the honour and welfare 
of his country. I have taken up considerable time, though 
with pleasure ; I cannot satisfy myself in letting you know 
enough. I have this to consider — I am here upon the 
main shore, and at present at a loss; am I under pay that 
will support me, or am I not? If I am not under pay, it 
is time for me to look out; well, I must go to work to 
provide my victuals and clothes; well, I shall labor dis- 
contented; work everyday for low wages ; my family is 
near to me; I am afraid they fare had; a wife and 
children are hard to part with ; well, I attempt to go to 
see them ; I am taken up, confined and perhaps sent 
away or massacred ; well, what station of life am I in ? if 
I am engaged in the cause, my mind is fixed; I know 
what I. have to do, and I know my subsistence ; I am eon- 
tent; my mind is bent to promote the cause wherein I am 
engaged. But if a man's income is extraordinary high, or 
too low to moderately maintain him, it will too much draw 
his mind and attention from the business he is engaged in. 

I have wrote a long translation, which I make bold 
should come to your knowledge. I write but seldom ; 
excuse me if I have in any part occasioned any insult 
upon your Honours; it is not what I mean to do; but 
you are the guardians of our rights, and to you alone, I 
have to make my address. I wish you well, and that a 
perfect union amongst you may bo and continue to the 
honour and welfare of America, and that you may appoint 
such men in our State, to lead and command, who will 
ever dispute and defend the American ground, inch by 
inch, over and over again, until a final defensive war may 
end, and remain to us all well, and-for evermore continue. 
From your humble servant, 

Benjamin Birdsall. 
To the Honourable Convention of the State of Xew York. 

[Journal of the New York Provincial Congress, vol. a, p. 334.] 


[ No. 6. ] 

[Even the whig descendants of the Puritans of Suffolk 
county were vexed by the persistent loyalty of many of 
their neighbors, as appears from several letters of com- 
plaint to Congress. One of these is as follows :] 

A letter from Wm. Smith, JEsq., Suffolk county, informing that 
iorles go from that quarter to the ships of war, with water, 
oysters and clams. 

Man. St. George's, May 25th, 177G. 

Gentlemen — The committee of Brookhaven, manor of 
St. George, and patent ship of Meritckes, met the 23d 
instant. A number of evidences being sworn, it appeared 
manifest to the meeting that there was a communication 
from Winthrop's patent and the ships of war lying at the 
Hook. It appeared also, one Gyer, a skipper, had carried 
off a number of men, eight or ten, last Saturday night, the 
most of them from Connecticut or AVestchester, who had 
been skulking in the woods a considerable time before they 
went off. There is missing from that patent at least three 
or four persons who are supposed to be gone with them, 
in particular one Fountain, a gunsmith. Gyer has been 
several trips out at the inlet, and when returned gave no 
satisfactory account to those who asked him where he had 
been; and it is thought lie has carried people to the man 
of war before, as people has come from the main shore to 
Stonybrook, and then gone through the woods to Win- 
throp's patent. Men have been seen with arms who were 
unknown to the inhabitants, and has given so great unea- 
siness to the people, that they have called on the minute 
men and militia for assistance. There has been 15 minute 
men stationed there since last Monday. It is suspected 


besides men, they get from that quarter water, oysters and 
clams, which are there in the greatest plenty. As the 
minute-men are such persons who are a carrying on busi- 
ness in the farming way, and cannot leave home without 
almost, if not quite ruining themselves and families, I was 
ordered by a letter to lay the affair before the Congress, 
not doubting, if they thought proper they would report 
the same to the Commander-in-Chief; it was thought by 
the Committee that a small ar.ned vessel, stationed at or 
near the inlet (where the sounding is, as I am informed 
from 8 to 12 feet), would answer the purpose best. People 
in these parts are much alarmed, especially since we now 
know that they have on board the men of war, those w T ho 
are thoroughly acquainted with the navigation of the 
South bay. Pray let us hear from you soon. This com- 
mittee has collected between 40 and 50 guns for the use 
of troops, which are much better than I could expect, 
and will be soon repaired. The greatest sticklers for 
ministerial measures, step towards Continental as fast as 
could be expected in this quarter. 

Gentlemen, I am, with the greatest respect, 

Your very humble servt. 

¥m. Smith. 
To the Provincial Congress, now silting in New York. 
[Journal of the New York Provincial Congress, vol. 11, p. 110.] 

[ Is T o. 7. ] 

Examination of John Mcndrickson regarding the conspiracy of 
the Tories of Long Island. 

Die Luaae, 9 H. O. A. M. May 20^, 1T7G. 

The Congress met pursuant to adjournment. 

John Ilendrickson attending, agreeable to the request 

of yesterday, the following oath was administered to him : 


" I, John Hendrickson, do solemnly swear, on the Holy 
Evangelists of Almighty God, that the evidence that 1 
glial) give to this Congress shall be the truth, the whole 
truth, and nothing but the truth, and that I will keep 
secret my examination before this Congress, until leave 
shall be given by order of this Congress to reveal the 

The President by order of Congress, assured Mr. Hen- 
drickson that his name, and the substance of the evidence 
which he shall give, shall, for the present, be kept secret. 

John Hendrickson, being examined on oath, says, that 
he does not know of any private plot among the disaffected 
on Long Island; that he has observed the people of Hemp- 
stead in high spirits of late; that the general part of the 
inhabitants of Hempstead and Roekaway are against the 
measures of the Colonies, and in favor of the King; that 
about a fortnight ago there was a report that a fleet was 
expected to arrive ; that they appeared rejoiced at it; that 
they expected to reap a benefit from the arrival of a fleet; 
that some of them say, they expect to join the King's 
troops if tliev arrive. That Richard Hulett and Thomas 
Cornell were esteemed leading men of those disaffected in 
Hempstead and Roekaway ; that Stephen Hulett was also 
esteemed a man of influence among them, and active. 
That Richard Hulett and Thos. Cornell are absent. That 
Isaac. Denton, near Roekaway, is thought to be active at 
present, and to assist in sending provisions to the ships of 
war; that Isaac Denton has a sloop of his own, and that 
he, the examinant, has heard that the said Isaac Denton 
lias put provisions on board; that he has lately heard 
James .Smith, of Hempstead, say he would join the King's 
troops if they should arrive; that people come to Hemp- 
stead from other places, who are said to come there for 
refuge; that he lias not lately seen many strangers going 
there, but that in January and February last he has seen 



many persons, sometimes a number in a day, who were 
strangers, going to Hempstead; that they appeared to be 
reserved and cautious; that he has lately seen some 
strangers in the county who are not residents; that he 
believes several of the inhabitants are yet armed; that he 
has lately been informed that along the south side, among 
the gunners, every other man at least is armed; that he 
lately saw two or three men like private men, who, he 
supposed, belonged to one of the ships of war; that they 
appeared like sailors; that from his general acquaintance, 
it is his opinion, that most part of the inhabitants would 
oppose the liberties of America if British troops should 
arrive; that there are yet some arms in and about the 
town of Ilempsted ; that the inhabitants are 500 or 600 
in number; that he has heard the inhabitants speak of 
Gabriel Ludlow, Justice Clowes, Daniel Kissam, Esq r . and 
Isaac Smith, Esq 5 "., as principal men, but that he has not 
heard any of those gentlemen say anything disaffected to 
the Colonies, and has not had conversation with them on 
the subject of the present troubles; that last winter a 
number of the inhabitants met two or three different 
times at the house of George Ryerson; that there were 
30 or 40 men at each of those meetings, as he imagines ; 
that he has seen David Colden, Cap*. Whitehead, Doct. 
Arden, Thos. Cornel, Captain Richard Ilulett and Isaac 
Smith, go there; that Captain Hicks, at Roekaway, who 
formerly had a commission from government, had about 
140 men in his company; that he conceives many con- 
cealed their best arms when Colo. Herd came to disarm 
them; that they sometimes go out gunning and shooting, 
but complain for want of ammunition ; that the few 
friends to liberty in that part of the country, are afraid, 
on account of the openness and threats of the disaffected ; 
thatXathan Smith told the examinant that one Ackerraan 
had informed him that he, the said Ackerman, had seen 


ft quantity of beef and pork on board of Isaac Denton's 

sloop, that there were also butter, eggs and gammons on 

board, and that the sloop proceeded out of Ilockaway 

inlet towards the ships of war; that this was a few days 

before Capt. Parr came up there with a company of 

riflemen ; that he has at three different times seen one 

sloop come into Rockaway inlet; that at one time it was 

Denton's sloop which he saw, aiid that the last he saw was 

a light sloop which came there on a Friday, which was a 

fortnight ago last Friday; that from the caution the 

greatest part of the inhabitants observe with the few 

friends to liberty, itis very difficult to obtain a knowledge 

of their intentions or designs; that he was informed, that 

lately, at a vendue at Rockaway, one Jacob Foster, who 

had a cockade in his hat, was much abused and ill treated 

because he was a whig; that the cockade was taken out 

of his hat and trod on by one Joseph Beagle ; that he also 

heard that Jacob Hendrickson was abused and. his hair 

pulled, because he was a whig; that he, the examinant, 

while he was at that vendue, and before he left it, saw 

Joseph Langdon there ; that he appeared to be disaffected 

and active among the people: that at a sheep parting 

lately in Hempstead, there was fresh lime punch plenty to 

be sold, and that it was sold in the pens by Timothy 

Clowes, a tavernkeeper. 

"John Hendrickson." 

[Journal of Provincial Congress, vol. i, p. 454.] 

[ Eo. 7 A. ] 

Plan of (he Attack formed by the British Spy, Sergeant Graham. 

Gilbert Forbes, being again examined, further saith: That 
he knew one Silk: that he Was left by Captain Aiclcy 


to wait upon his wife, who lives on Long Island, some- 
where near Hempstead; that lie is often in town, frequently 
at Mrs. Oiry*4 and Mrs. Brandon's, has the air of a soldier, 
wears a short brown hunting coat and a double-breasted 
jacket of the same colour; that he used to wait on a Mr. 
Miller, who lives or lodges in Mrs. Goiwcrncnr s house on 
Rotten How; that Sergeant Graham (an old soldier, dis- 
charged from the Royal Artillery) was employed by Go- 
vernour Trgon to speak to examinant about inlisting men 
for the King's service, and told this examinant, from the 
Governour, that if this examinant exerted himself in that 
business and raised a number of men, he should have a 
company; that the said Sergeant also informed him that, 
at the request of the Governour, he had surveyed the ground 
and works about this city and on Long Island, in conse- 
quence of which he had concerted a plan for an attack, 
which he had given to Governour Try-on, and which the 
Governour approved, which was as follows, viz: that the 
man-of-war should cannonade the battery at Bed Hook, and 
while that was doing a detachment of the army with some 
cannon, &c, should land below or about Bed Hook, and 
march round so as to come upon the back of the batteries 
near Swedekind House, that a small part of the detachment 
should make a feint of marching up the road leading 
directly to the battery, but that the main body were to 
make a circuitous march so as to reach the battery while 
our attention was ene;ao;cd by the feint aforesaid ; that if 
they carried that battery, which they expected to take by 
storm, they were immediately to attack the battery on the 
hill near the ferry, which the Sergeant said would be 
easily done, as no embrasures were made, or cannon fixed 
on the back side of it; that this hitter battery, when in their 
possession, would command the works on Governour* s 
Island, which they would keep between two fires, viz : the 
batterv last mentioned on the one side, and the shipping 


on the other; that then the shipping, with the remainder 
of the Army, were to divide, one division was to run up 
the North River and land at or about near Clarke's farm, 
and march directly to Enclenbergh Hall, and fortify there ; 
the other division was to run up the East River and land 
in such manner as to gain a footing on Jones' Hill, from 
whence they expected to command and silence the battery 
on Bayard's Hill; that should they gain possession of the 
places above mentioned, their next object would be the 
grounds adjacent to King's Bridge, where they intend to 
erect strong works, so as to cut off the communication 
between the city and country. 

[American Archives, vol. vi, 4tli Scries, folio, 1178.] 

[ No. 8. ] 

General Howe to Lord George Germaine. 

Staten Island, July 7, 17TG. 
My Lord The 31ercury packet is despatched to inform 
your Lordship of the arrival of the Halifax iieet, on the 
20th of June, at Sandy Hook, where I arrived four days 
sooner in the Graylwund frigate. I met with Governour 
Tn/oti, on board of ship at the Hook, and many gentlemen, 
last Friends to Government, attending him, from whom I 
have had the fullest information of the state of the Rebels, 
who are numerous, and very advantageously posted, with 
strong intrenchments, both upon Long-Island and that of 
New York, with more that one hundred pieces of cannon 
for the defense of the town towards the sea, and to ob- 
struct the passage of the ileet up the North River, besides 
a considerable field-train of artillery. Having made in- 
quiries of these gentlemen respecting the face of the coun- 


try between Gravesend Bay in Long-Island, and the enemy's 
works in the neighbourhood of Brooklyn, their accounts 
were so satisfactory that 1 had determined to disembark 
the Army at Gravesend; and with this intention the fleet 
moved up to the bay, on the 1st instant, in the evening, \ n 
order to land the troops at the break of day next morning; 
but being more particularly informed during the night of 
a strong pass upon a ridge of craggy heights covered with 
wood, that lay in the route the Army must have taken, 
only two miles distant from the front of the enemy's en- 
campment and seven from Gravesend, which the Rebels 
would undoubtedly have occupied before the Kings troops 
could get up to it; and from the minutest description, 
judging an attack upon this post, so strong by nature, and 
so near the front of the enemy's works, to be too hazard- 
ous an attempt, before the arrival of the troops with Com- 
modore Iloiham, daily expected, I declined the undertaking, 
and passing the Narroios with three ships of war and the 
first division of transports, landed the Grenadiers and 
Light-Infantry as the ships came up, to the great joy of a 
most loyal people, long suffering on that account under the 
oppression of the Rebels stationed among them, who pre- 
cipitately fled on the approach of the shipping. The re- 
mainder of the troops landed the next day and night, and 
are now distributed in cantonments, where they have the 
best refreshments. 

* * * I propose waiting here for the English fleet, 
or the arrival of Lieutenant-General Clinton, in readiness 
to proceed, unless by some unexpected change of circum- 
stances in the meantime, it should be found expedient to 
act with the present force. * * * 

[American Archives, vol. 1, 5tli Series, p. 105.] 


[ No. 8 A. ] 

Injur laation respecting Dr. Arden and others (lories) at Jamaica. 

Doctor Charles Arden, was the person who instigated the 
Tories to sign against having a Congress or a Committee. 

Benjamin Smith (son of Samuel Smith, Esq.) 

Robert Hinchman. 

Thomas Smith, (son of Thomas Smith,) whom he threa- 
tened to hang if he would not sign a paper. 

Isaac Leffertse. Bought the widow Rett's farm. He 
wrote the affidavit of Roeloff Duri/ee about Parson Kettle- 
tas, and carried Justice French to Dwnjee's for that purpose. 

Captain Benjamin Whitehead, late Supervisor. Repeat- 
edly refused to communicate to the town of Jamaica 
certain letters from the General Committee of New- York, 
requesting the town to be called together to elect members 
of a Committee or Congress. "Witness: Waters Smith, or 
either of the other persons above named, or Captain Jacob 

Alexander Wallace. Resides at Jamaica, in Wed Smith's 

■ Bethunc. He maintains an intimacy with Benja- 
min Whitehead and with Dr. Arden. 

— Martin, from Antigua. Dwells at Obd. Mill's house, 

opposite the Meeting House, at a high rent. He associates 
chieily with James Depegster. 

Charles McEvers. Resides in John Troop's house. 

Thomas Colgan and Flcniming Colgan frequently go to 
Creed's Hill to look out ; the two Dunbars, John William. 
Livingston, Jan., and one of the Colgans, were there lately 
looking out for a fleet. That the Dunbars shut themselves 
up, and refused to train or pay their fines. 

John and William Dunbar. 


G ' y" \ Lives with J _ is Jo) : : J~ 7' . 
5, about one-and-a-half mile from Jamaica. 
TheophUaci Ba 7. of Flatbask. Corner to J 
sfer ".:.". .. 
i . Lives next to rl BdCs. His 

Joseph 7 ... has been j sd several times, but can- 

not be taken. lie is said to be a dang-.: . - ] 

[Force's A :~ Arek ■":'.': 1158.] 

[ Ka 9. ] 

jB tart 0/ ifa Zkw i •:/ Long Island. 

G uverkeub Morris ic General WASinxexox. In 
Committee :: the Convention :: Representatives of the 
Slate of New York, at the C ity Hull of the city of {few 
York Jnlj 14 1776. 

Sir: I am an :- ::-: i by tJ e C xnmittee to inform you: 7 ::- 
: 77: icy :7:-: :. : . :■: number of the persons n jw confined 
in our jail are from '[ : County, on Long Ida 7 and, 
from all appearances, we are confident they are in e i- 
ment inimical to that glorious cause in which, with your 
Excellency, we have tiie honor to be engaged. TVe have 
It in oar J owe? to confine them dose : 7 aers, ; take 
security : : :7eir future eondnct The incoi enience of 
ling thejails throughout the bounty withj fthis 

el uracter, if they :■; o safe] rmitted to continue at 

their usual i7 . :- ;: residence, is striking, : 7 must fill 
their minds with the sourness of opposition, and at the 
trif by rousing and engaging all their connection?. 
giving : just alarm tc every person sus| : ted 
similar princij ies, raise up numerous enemies actuated by 
: e venge and despair. 7. : the other han 7 - 
taken for theii lemeanor, at the - - time 


binding them to continue at their usual places of abode, 
the dangers I have just suggested to your Excellency will 
indeed be removed; but another cause of serious appre- 
hension will still remain, and we shall risk much from their 
correspondence with the enemy, while perhaps it may be 
difficult to prevent them from knowing the measures which 
may be taken by your Excellency for the publick service. 
In this disagreeable dilemma, we find ourselves under the 
necessity of asking advice, sir, from you, and such persons 
in your council as you may think proper to consult, it 
being our wish that our conduct should conform to the 
sentiments of those who are intrusted with the important 
concerns of the' United States, * * * * 

Gouv. Morris. 

[Force's American Archives, vol. I, 5th series, folio 334.] 

[ No. 10. ] 

Report to the President to Congress ; on driving off Stock. 

Sir: — I have been some days, and am still, in the exe- 
cution of the order of Congress for removing the cattle, 
horses and sheep in this county, and expect to finish in a 
day or two more. From the best computation that can be 
made, there are not less than 7,000 horned cattle, 7,000 
sheep and 1000 horses in this county, comprehended in the 
above order, and to be removed in pursuance of it. A 
number so large, it is conceived, cannot possibly live long 
where they are to be driven. On the Bushy Plains they 
will be entirely destitute of water, besides having other 
very scanty means of subsistence. 

By attending myself on this business, I have had an 
opportunity of knowing the extreme distress by which the 
rigid execution of this order must expose many people with 
their families; so that some among the poorer sort, for 



aught I know, must be left to starve. The cattle which 
many people have turned oft' to fat for the use of their 
families, will be lost as to all the purposes of such provi- 
sion, and their families be destitute of that necessary sup- 
ply for winter. In several parts of the county there was 
last year a distemper among the horses, which swept off 
such numbers of them that many people have been obliged 
since to depend entirely upon oxen. These being now 
taken away, they are deprived of the only means they had 
of carrying on any labor upon their farms, that requires a 
team of horses or oxen. The consequence of which must 
be, that they can neither secure their present harvest, nor 
till the earth for a future one. 

I find the people in general are willing to enter into ob- 
ligations, that (in case of immediate danger) they will drive 
their stock to any place of greater safety on the island, 
pursuant to the direction of the Congress or county com- 
mittee. And considering the danger there is, under the 
present regulation of losing a great part of the stock for 
want of sustenance, and the hardships to which people are 
reduced, I thought it might not be amiss, to mention this 
circumstance, supposing that the Congress, in concurrence 
with the General, might perhaps, fall on some method, in 
this way, for securing this stock on an emergency. 

The difficulty of keeping the stock within the limits 
prescribed, will be so great that I doubt it will be out of 
my power to effect it. A considerable number of men 
will be necessary for the purpose — more than I can possi- 
bly keep on that duty, when harvest is so near at hand. 
In short I do not see but that for the present at least, I 
shall be obliged to leave them to take their chance. 
I, am, sir, your very humble servant. 

Bexj. Kissam. 
Cow Keck, July, 1770. 
[Onchnlonk's Rev. Incidents Queens Co., p. 70.] 



[ No. 11. ] 

Jeromus Hansen, to Col. John Sands. 

New York, July 3, 1776. 
To Col. John Sands, Esq. : 

Sir: I have this day waited upon his Excellency, Gen. 
Washington, relating to removing the cattle, horses and 
sheep on the south side of Queens county, according to 
the resolve of Congress and the general officers of the 
army. His opinion is that the commanding officers and 
committees of the county, order it immediately done. He 
farther declared that in case the Tories made any resist- 
ance, he would send a number of his men with orders to 
shoot all the creatures, and also those who hindered the 
execution of said resolve, within the limits therein pre- 
scribed. The Commissary of the army engaged to me 
that he would pay the full value for the fat cattle and sheep 
to the owners, provided they would drive them within 
Gen. Greene's lines, in Brookland. Proper care will be 
taken as to valuing said creatures. Time will not permit 
us to make any delay. 

I am sir, your very humble servant, 

Jeromus Remsen, Jr. 

[Ond< rdonk's Rev. Incidents Queens Co., p. 74.] 

[ No. 12. ] 

Captain Lambert Suydam's liepori of Loyalist Prisoners. 

Camp, Long Island, Aug. 19, 177G. 

1, the subscriber, went down to Tvockaway just at day- 
break, with my company of Light Horse, pursuant to an 


order from Brig. Gen. Heard, to take care of some boats. 

At the house of Van Brockle, J discovered a number 

of men, is.>u<j out of the door and run, some of them partly 
dressed, and some in their shirts only. Immediately I or- 
dered my men to pursue them, and presently overtook 
three of their number, and took them prisoners. Two of 
them got to the woods and hid under the bushes; on find- 
ing them, I ordered them to surrender. One of them did; 
the other absolutely refused, although one of my men bad 
his gun presented to his breast; on winch my men alighted 
and took him. 

After I had taken six prisoners, I examined the beach, 
and found a boat and four oars, and a paddle. In the 
boat were three slice]), four ducks, and a large bottle with 

Lambert Suydam, Captain of the Troop. 

[OndcrdouVs Ret. Incidents Queens Co., p. 86.] 

[ No. 13. ] 

A Boll of the Commissioned Officers, Non- Commissioned Officers, 
and Privates, of Hie Troup of Horse of King's County, which 
were upon Duty in order to drive off (he Stock. Commenced 
August 14, 1776. 

.Upon duty and cq/me over from Upon duty, Lai remained upon 
Long Island. Long Island. 

Daniel Rappolye, 1st Lieutenant. Lambert Suydam, Captain. 

Jacob Bloom, 2d do. Peter Wyekoff, Quartermaster 

Peter Vaudervoot, Ensign. Hendrick Suydam, Clerk. 

Hendriek Johnson, Sergeant. John Nostrant, do. 



Juhu Blanco, Trumpeter. 
Rcyner Suydain, Private. 
John Vaaderveer, do. 

Jacob Suydam, Private. 
Isaac Snediker, do. 
Isaac Bocruni, do. 

John Rierson, 


Rutgers Van Brunt, do. 
Charles De Bevort, do. 
Benjamin Seaman, do. 

lloclof Turhume, 
Andrew Casper, 
Thomas Betts, 
Martin Kershaw, 
Peter Miller, 


Hcndrick Wyckoff, d( 

Daniel Bappelye, Lieutenant. 

A Roll of Commissioned Officers, JVon- Commissioned Officers, 
and Privates, of the Troop of lAght Horse of Queen's County, 
■which were upon duty in order to drive off the Stock. Com- 
menced, August 14, 1776. 

Lpon duty, and came over from 
off Long Island. 

William Bocrum. 1st Lieutenant. 
Jacob Scoring, Ensign. 

Upon duty, hut remained upon 
Long Island. 

Thomas Event, 2d Lieutenant. 
Joseph Smith, Private. 
William Everit, do. 
Abraham Rappelye, do. 
Stephen Sclicuck, do. 
Ilobert Galbreath, do. 
Samuel Etherington, do. 
Nicholas Van Dam, do. 

William Boerum, Lieutenant. 
[Force's American Archives, vol. t, 5th Series, folio 953.] 

Isaac Scoring, Private 

Joseph Scbring, do. 

Job a Hicks, do. 

George Powels, do. 

William Ellsworth, do. 

Jeremiah Brower, do. 


James Casper. do. 

William Bocrum, do. 


Adolpbus Brower, do. 


[ No. 14. ] 

Depositions and Letters relating to the Loyalists of Long Island. 

Committee Chamber, 

White Plains, 12th July, 1776. 

Mr. being duly sworn on the Holy Evangelist of 

Almighty God, deposeth and says: That some time after 
William Sutton returned home from Governor Trjon's 
ship, he (this deponent) was informed by said Sutton as 
follows: That our people were to be cut off from New- 
York, and that the King's troops were to land about ten 
miles from Mamaroneck; that Hudson's river was to be 
occupied by them ; that the fleet was to be drawn up in a 
line before New-York, with intent to keep the forces there 
in action, in order to give the transports a better opportu- 
nity of running up the North river, with intent to cut off 
the communication between the country and city; that the 
King's standard was to be hoisted, and that the tories 
would then have a chance ; that said Sutton further informed 
this deponent, that Robert Sutton, of Long island, would 
join the regulars with seven hundred men well equipped ; 
that a proclamation would be issued out by the King's 
party; that the people would then know what they had to 
expect; and that there would be forty -five thousand troops 
sent over to America this Summer. And this deponent 
says, that he heard John Sutton (son of the aforesaid Wil- 
liam) declare, that the regulars would land between Ma- 
maroneck and Horseneck, and that he would join them. 
And this deponent further says, that he heard James 
Ilorton say that he was sure the Ministerial army would 
conquer, and that matters would soon be settled. And 
further says not. 

By order of Committee. 

John Thomas, June., Chairman. 

[Joumiti Provincial Co nor ess, vol. 11, p. 302.] 


In Committee of Safety, 
White Plains, July 13th, 1776. 

The within deponent came before this committee, and 

made oath that he saw Joshua Gedney, of Dutchess 

county, have a long list of men's names who would join 

the Ministerial army; that said list of names was delivered 

to Governor Tryon by said Gedney, in the presence of this 

deponent. And this deponent further says : that he heard 

Caleb Fowler, junr. of North Castle, degrade the service 

he had been in, and that if he went again he would go 

like a man and join the Ministerial army. 

By order of Committee. 

John Thomas, Junii, 


In Committee of Safety, 
White Plains, July 15th, 1776. 

Mr. came before this committee and made oath, that 

"William Sutton, did, about fourteen days ago, at the house 
of Nicholas Morrell, at Mamaroneek, declare, in the pre- 
sence of this deponent and James Reynolds, cabinet-maker 
of New- York, and several others, whose names this depo- 
nent does not at present recollect, that in case Independency 
was declared by the Continental Congress, that there were 
three colonels in the service that would join the Ministerial 
army. And further says not. 

By order of Committee. 

John Thomas, Jtinii, 



Letter from Gm. Scott. 

New York ; July 15th, 1776. 

Sir — This will be delivered to you by Lieut Colo, of 
iny brigade. He is from Queens, and should have b< en 
under the command of the Richmond captains^ bad he not 

proved a villain and joined the enemy. I do not know what 
to do with him in the present situation of things. He lias 
12 men with now in camp; he expects by the even- 
ing to be made up to 25. It would be a great pity to lose 
so stout and handsome a young fellow. I could provide 
him with a second lieutenancy; but he has too much spirit 
to be degraded. I like him well, and wish something may 
be done for him by Congress. It is possible, sir, that 
the Congress can sustain the clamours of the army, and 
the murmuring of the inhabitants, occasioned by their 
retreat. For G od sake, for the honour of the State of New 
York, and for their own honour, bring thorn back if pos- 

I am, sir, your most obedt. servt, 

Jno. Mo p. in Scott. 

[Journal Provincial Congress of New York, vol n, p. 302.] 

Letter from W. Rogers. 

Tire Island, June 21, 1TTC. 
Gentlemen — I expect you have heard of the two prizes 
brought in here, and may think strange that we were not 

in the way; we seem to be damned unlucky, for that day 
we were heaving down, the vessels came from the eastward 


close along shore, they only bad to go abotit two miles 
over the bar and bring them both in ; fortune favored them 
in every respect, for they went out with the wind to the 
northward, and as soon as they got on board the ship, the 
wind came round to the seaward so that they come right 
on before the wind, for there was not a man on board that 
could put the ship on stays. That it is damned hard to 
think that we have cruised so long and got nothing, to see 
a thing that has not been a league from the land, but been 
a thumming along shore, go out and bring in two prizes 
before our eyes, and could not have any hand in it. On 
the 14th instant at daylight we saw a sail in the offing 
we gave her chase, at 8 came so nigh that we discovered 
her to be a ship of war; we were then about 6 or 7 leagues 
from the land, with the wind off shore. When we saw 
what she was, we hauled our wind and stood from her, 
she then gave chase ; at meridian we got into this inlet, 
when we crossed the bar, the ship was in about a mile of 
us; we saved ourselves and that was all. On the 17th I 
received the things that yon sent by Lieut. Thew; on the 
18th hauled into the creek; 19th, hove down, which was 
the day the prizes were brought in. We have now got all 
on board, and out of the creek; have little wood and water 
to gel, which I shall do as soon as possible. On the 19th 
at night, we Ifad six men deserted from Fire island; our 
own boat was secured so that I was under no apprehension 
of their getting oft' the island; but there was a party of 
soldiers on the other end of the island with a whale boat; 
they went there and took the boat from along side the 
tent and went oft* with her; their names are, Thomas 
Bntier, Lichard Gildersleve, Ebenezer Conkling, Solo- 
mon Kitcham, Jonathan Armstrong, and Elisha Reeves. 
Butler is a short mulatto looking fellow, married to one 
Michael Shruns' or Thmms' daughter, at the sign of the 
Black Horse in Bowre Lain. Conkling, Kitcham, and 

DOCUMENTS. •> , - 

Gildersleeve, nil belong to Huntington, and have "one 
home I bear. Reeves and Armstrong belong to Sonthold. 
Butler, I expect, may be found in New- York; and if the 
Congress or Committee of Safety writes to the Committees 

of Huntington and Southold, they may all be taken ; for 
if they are permitted to desert, and taken no notice of, we 
shall not be able to keep a man; for every affront thev 
will go off. If they have anything to complain of about 

their treatment, I am ready to answer for it. 

I am, gentlemen, 

Your most obt. liumbl. servt. 

AY. Rogers. 

To Mr. Van Zaxdt and Capt. Eaxdell. 

[Journal Provincial Congress of JYew York, vol. n, p. 467.] 

Letters from Messrs. Benson, Smith and Catiline, Commis- 
sioners of Conspiracies, informing the Council of Saf ty that 
a number of Quakers have lately been to Long-island without 
'permission, $e. 

Poughkeepsie, June ISfch, 1777. 

Sir — A number of the people called Quakers, have 
lately been to Long island without permission, to attend 
their aunual meeting at Flushing; as soon as we received 
information of it, we issued the necessary orders to have 
them apprehended, and we have now several detained as 
prisoners at this place; they aver that they attended the 
meeting solely for religious purposes, and that they have 
not in the least intermeddled in political matters; wo arc 
not possessed of any evidence either that they have or have 
not. As there are upwards of twenty in this predicament, 
we conceive it a matter of too much importance to ueter- 


mine it until we had previously communicated the state of 
it to the Council of Safety, for their advice and directions ; 
you will please therefore to lay the same before the Council, 
and we shall he happy in their speedy instructions. 

We remain, respectfully, 
Your very hhle. servants, . 
Egbt. Benson, 
Melancton Smith, 
Peter Cantine, Junk. 

To the Hon. Pierre Van Cortlandt. 


[ 14 A. ] 

Letters of Golden and Tryon. 

To his Excellency, ¥m. Tryon, Esq., Capt. General, and 
Governor of the Province of Xew-York, and the territo- 
ries thereon depending, in America: Chancellor and 
Vice Admiral of the same, &c, &c. 
May it please your Excellency, — we, the freeholders and 
inhabitants of Queens county, are happy once again to ad- 
dress your Excellency in the capital of the Province. "Wc 
heartily congratulate you on your return, which we consi- 
der as the earnest of farther success, and hope ere long the 
whole Province will feel the blessings of your Excellency's 
upright administration. 

Anxiously do we look forward to the time, when the 
disobedient shall return to their duty, and the ravages of 
war cease to desolate this once ilourishimr country. 

That we may be restored to the King's most gracious 
protection, torn from us by the hand of violence; and 




quicken others by our example to embrace the repeatec 
invitations of his Majesty's commissioners, we have resolvec 
on and subscribed a dutiful representation and petition 
setting forth to them our loyal disposition, and pray: 
that the county m:ty be declared at the King's peace. 

We entreat your Excellency to present our petition; and 
rely on your known humanity and benevolence for the 
exertion of your influence in behalf of the well affected 
county of Queens, that it may again in the bosom of peace 
enjoy the royal favor under your Excellency's paternal 
care and attention. 

Signed by desire and in behalf of 1293 freeholders and 
inhabitants, by David Colden. 

'Queens County, Oct. 21, 1776. 

[Ondcrdonk's Revolutionary Incidents Queens Co., p. 109.] 

New York, Nov. 12 th, 177(5. 

Sir — In compliance with the request in the address 
presented to me by you, In behalf of the inhabitants of 
Queens county, I immediately after my return from head 
quarters waited on Lord Howe, one of the King's commis- 
sioners for restoring peace to his Majesty's colonies, and 
presented to his Lordship the very dutiful and loyal peti- 
tion and representation of the said inhabitants, who was 
pleased to say, "He would take the earliest opportunity of 
communicating with Gen. Howe on the occasion." 

This public testimony from' the inhabitants of Queens 
county, of their unshaken loyalty to our most gracious 
sovereign, and of their zealous attachment to the British 
constitution, is particularly agreeable to me, and entitles 


them to my Lest endeavors for a speedy accomplishment 
of their wishes: the season and the expediency of the 
granting whereof are safely and happily committed to the 
wisdom and direction of his Majesty's commissioners. 
I am, with regard, sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 

Wm. Tryon. 
David Colden, Esq., of Queens Co, 


[ IS T o. 15. ] 

Major Aimer Benedict's Account of the Battle and of the Tornado 
which preceded it. 

Aimer Benedict was horn at North Salem, New York, 
[Nov. 9th, 1740. A classmate of Timothy D wight, he gra- 
duated at Yale College, in 1769, and studied theology with. 
the celebrated Dr. Bellamy, of Bethlehem, Conn. * * 
lie was with the army in i\ T ew York, and being deeply 
interested in the efforts put forth to destroy the enemy's 
ships by torpedos, made some inventions in submarine 
navigation, which were looked upon with great favor by 
those to whom they were submitted. He often spoke of 
the excitement which the news of the landing of the 
British on Long Island created in the army, and of the 
effects on the inhabitants, who saw that the final struggle 
for New York was at hand. The day around which clus- 
tered such momentous destinies, closed with what seemed 
an awful omen of 2*ood or ill to the American cause. Mr. 
Benedict was in the ranks on Brooklyn Heights at the time 
from the ramparts of which he could look out on the roll- 
ing country dotted with troops, hurrying in every direction. 


The 1110.4 intense excitement prevailed throughout the 
city, raid reenforcements had been pushed rapidly forward 
all day to meet the coming shock. 

But crowded as the day had been with anxious fears 
and Hooray forebodings, the coming on of eveninir brought 
new terrors. In the west slowly rose a thunder-cloud, the 
glittering, coruscated edges of which seemed solid as mar- 
ble, so that when the sun passed behind it, it was like a 
total eclipse, and sudden darkness fell on sea and laud. 

Mr. Benedict's description of the appearance and passage 
of the thunder-cloud was appalling. As it continued to 
rise higher and higher, he observed that it was surcharged 
with electricity, for the lightning was constantly search- 
ing it from limit to limit, and the deep reverberations that 
rolled along the heavens without intermission, sounded 
more like successive billows bursting on the shore, than 
the irregular discharges of a thunder-cloud. 

At length, at seven o'clock, it began to rain. All before 
had been the skirmishing that precedes the battle, but now 
like some huge monster that cloud suddenly gaped and 
shot forth flame. Then followed a crash louder than a 
thousand cannon discharged at once. It was appalling. 
The soldiers involuntary cowered before it. In a few 
moments the entire heavens became black as ink, and 
from horizon to horizon the whole empyrean was ablaze 
with lightning, while the thunder that followed did not come 
in successive peals, but in one long and continuous crash, 
as if the very frame work of the skies was falling to pieces, 
accompanied with a confused, sound, as though the frag- 
ments were tumbling into a profound abyss. The light- 
ning fell in masses and sheets of fire to the earth, and 
seemed to be striking incessantly and on every side. 
There was an apparent recklessness and wildness about 
the unloosed strength of the elements that was absolutely 
terrifying. The power that was abroad seemed sufficient 


to crush the earth into a thousand fragments. The fort 
was as silent as the grave, for the strongest heart bout 
before this exhibition of God's terrible majesty. It did not 
pass away like an ordinary shower, for the cloud appeared 
to stand still, and swing round and round like a horizontal 
wheel over the devoted city. It clung to it with a tenacity 
that was frightful. For three hours, or from seven to ten, 
the deafening uproar continued without cessation or abate- 
ment. When it finally took its tumultuous departure, 
every heart felt relieved. 

The morning dawned mild and peaceful, as if nothing 
unusual had happened, but soon reports began to come in 
of the devastation and death the storm had spread around. 
There was no end of the accounts of almost miraculous 
escapes of the inmates of houses that were struck. In 
others the inhabitants were more or less injured. A 
soldier, passing through one of the streets, without receiv- 
ing apparently any external injury was struck deaf, dumb 
and blind. A captain and two lieutenants belonging to 
McDoiigaPs regiment, were killed by one thunderbolt ; 
the points of their swords melted off, and the coin melted 
in their pockets. Their bodies appeared as if they had 
been roasted, so black and crisped was the skin. Ten men 
encamped outside the fort near the river, and occupying one 
tent, were killed by a single flash. When the tent, that 
had fallen upon them, was lifted, they lay scattered around 
on the ground, presenting a most melancholy appearance. 
They belonged to one of the Connecticut regiments and 
were buried in one grave. The service performed by the 
chaplain was very solemn and impressive. Familiar as we 
become with death in the midst of war, it somehow affects 
us very differently when sent, apparently, direct from the 
hand of God. In battle we hear the roar of the guns, and 
after the smoke and tumult have passed away, we expect 
to sec bleeding and mangled forms scattered around. 


But there seems a hidden meaning, some secret purpose, 
when the bolt is launched, by an invisible arm, and from 
the mysterious depths of space. 

From every side came in reports of soldiers more or loss 
injured, and the excitement could hardly have been greater, 
and the returns caused more surprise, if there had been a 
night attack on the camp. 

Mr. Benedict said he could not account for the cloud 
remaining so long stationary, unless the vast amount of 
arms collected in and about the city held it by attraction 
and drew from it such a fearful amount of electricity. 1 

At regimental prayers, next morning, he felt peculiarly 
solemn. The great battle so near at hand, to be perhaps 
a decisive one for his country, filled him with sad forebod- 

Scarcely were the religious services finished when strains 
of martial music were heard near the ferry, and not lomr 
after column after column came winding up the heights 
towards the fort. They were six battalions, sent over by 
Washington, accompanied by General Putnam, who was 
to take chief command. The General was received with 
loud cheers, and his presence inspired universal confidence. 

In a short time the whole couutry, to the front and right 
as far as the eye could reach, was covered with the smoke 
of battle, and shook to the thunder of cannon. "When the 
tumult ceased, the fields alive with fugitives from the 
American army, told how disastrous the day had been. ^N i r. 
Benedict's heart was filled with the most poignant sorrow, 
for not only had the Americans lost the battle, but the 
whole army was now threatened with total destruction. 
The silence of the evening was more oppressive than the 
uproar and carnage of the day/for, "what note can save the 


'This explanation was in accordance -with the theory of thunderstorms at 

that time. — Ed. 


ariP'j? " trembled on every lip. ISo one believed the fort 
could be defended, as all the approaches to it were in the 
enemy's power; while the first movement to retreat across 
to the city would bring the ships of war lying just below 
into their midst. 

In this fearful dilemma fervent prayers went up to Him 
who alone could deliver. As if in answer to those prayers, 
when night deepened, a dense fog came rolling in, and 
settled on land and water. At the same time, with the 
turn of the tide, a strong east wind arose, that sent the 
water with the force of a torrent into the bay, effectually 
preventing for the time the ships, if they had desired it, 
from entering the river. Under cover of tins fo^r and 
the night Washington silently withdrew his entire army 
across the river to ±sqw York. Mr. Benedict, who 
watched the progress of this movement, with an anxiety 
that mocked expression, remained behind, while boat load 
after boat load drifted away in the darkness. When the 
army was all over, he then consented to go also, and step- 
ping into a boat, was one of the last to leave that disastrous 
shore. He retreated with the army to Harlaem Heights, 
and was present in the skirmishes that followed, and wit- 
nessed the battle of White Plains. In the description of 
the army that succeeded the fall of Fort Washington, he 
returned to his parish. 

[Chaplains and Clergy of the Revolution.'] 

[ Xo. 16. ] 

Journal of the Transactions of August IT, 1776, upon Long 
Island ; by Colonel Samuel J. Atlee. 

August 27, 1776. 

This morning, before day, the camp was alarmed by an 
attack made upon that part of our picket guard upon the 


lower road leading to tlie JWurows, commenced by Major 
Burd of the Pennsylvania Flying-Gamp.. About daylight 
a part of General Lord Stirling's Brigade then in camp, 
viz: the battalion, of Maryland, Colonel Smallwood; the 
Delaware, Colonel Ilaslctt ; about one hundred and twenty 
of my Battalion Pennsylvania Musquetry, and part of Lutz 
and Jviechlein's Battalions, Pennsylvania Militia; contain- 
ing in the whole about two thousand three hundred men, 
under the command of Major-General Sullivan, and the 
Brigadiers Stirling and Parsons, were ordered to march out 
and support the picket attacked by the enemy. 

About half after seven the enemy, consisting of t\io 
fourth and sixth Brigades of the British Army, composed 
of the Seventeenth, Fortieth, Forty-sixth, Fifty-fifth, 
Twenty-third, Forty-fourth, Fifty-seventh, Six ty-iburt :.h, 
and Forty-second Regiments, were observed advancing 
about two and a half miles from our lines at Brookliae in 
regular order, their field artillery in front. 

I then received orders from Lord Stirling to advance with 
my battalion, and oppose the enemy's passing a morass or 
swamp, at the foot of a fine rising ground, upon which 
they were first discovered, and thereby give time to our 
brigade to form upon the heights. This order I imim-- 
diately obeyed, notwithstanding we must be exposed, with- 
out any kind of cover, to the great tire of the enemy's 
musketry and Held pieces, charged with round and grape 
shot, and finely situated upon the eminence above men- 
tioned, having the entire command of the ground I was 
ordered to occupy. My battalion, although new and 
never before having the opportunity of facing an enemy, 
sustained their fire until the brigade had formed; but 
finding we could not possibly prevent their crossing the 
swamp, I ordered my detachment to file off to the left, 
and take post in a wood upon the left of the brigade. 
Here I looked upon myself advantageously situated, and 


might be enabled, upon the advance of the enemy, to give 
him a warm reception. In this affair I lost hut one soldier, 
shot with a grape shot through his throat. I had not taken 
post in the above mentioned wood but a few minutes when 
I received a reinforcement of two companies of the J)da- 
warcs, under Captain Stedman, with orders from Lord Stir- 
ling to file off further to the left and prevent, if possible, a 
body of the enemy observed advancing to flank the brigade. 
The enemy's troops by this time had passed the swamp 
and formed in line of battle opposite ours. A heavy fire, 
as well from small arms as artillery, ensued, with very 
little damage on our side; what the enemy sustained we 
could not judge. Upon tiling off to the left, according to 
the orders I had received, I espied at the distance of about 
three hundred yards a hill f clear ground, which I judged 
to be a proper situation to oppose the troops ordered to 
flank us, and which I determined, if possible, to gain 
before them. At the foot of this hill a few of Huntington's 
Connecticut Regiment, that had been upon the picket, 
joined me. In order to gain and secure the hill, I ordered 
the troops to wheel to the right and march up the hill 
abreast. When within about forty yards of the summit, 
we very unexpectedly received a very heavy lire from the 
enemy taken post there before us, notwithstanding the 
forced march I made. The enemy's situation was so very 
advantageous, the back of the hill where they had taken 
post being formed by nature into a breast-work, that had 
they directed their lire properly or been marksmen, they 
must have cut off the greatest part of my detachment. I 
having, before I advanced the hill, posted a part of my 
small number along the skirt of a wood upon my right, 
and lei't a guard at the foot of the hill, to prevent my being 
surrounded, and my retreat to the brigade in case of ne- 
cessity, being cut oil', the enemy being vastly superior in 
numbers, their detachment consisting of the Twenty-third 


and Forty-fourth Regiments and part of the Seventeenth. 
Upon receiving the above heavy fire, which continued very 
warm and they secure behind the hill, a email halt was 
made, and the detachment fell back a few paces. Here 
Capt. Stedman, with all the Delaioares, except the Lieu- 
tenants Stewart and Harney, with about, sixteen privates, 
left me, and drew after them some of my own. The 
remainder, after recovering a little from this, their first 
shock, I ordered to advance, at the same time desiring 
them to preserve their lire and aim aright. They imme- 
diately, with the resolution of veteran soldiers, obeyed the 
order. The enemy, finding their opponents fast advancin g, 
and determined to dispute the ground with them, tied with 
precipitation, leaving behind them twelve killed upon the 
spot, and a Lieutenant and four privates wounded. In 
this engagement I lost my worthy friend and Lieutenant- 
Colonel (Parry,) shot through the head, who fell without a 
groan, lighting in defeuce of his much injured country. 
In the midst of the action I ordered four soldiers to carry 
him as speedily as possible within the lines at Brookline. 

My brave fellows, flushed with this advantage, were for 
pushing forward after the flying enemy; but perceiving 
at about sixty yards from the hill we had gained, across a 
hollow way, a stone fence lined with wood, from behind 
which we might be greatly annoyed, and fearing an am- 
buscade might be there placed, I ordered not to advance 
farther, but to maintain the possession of the hill, wliere 
kind nature had formed a breastwork nearly semicircular. 
They halted, and found, by a heavy lire from the fence, it 
was lined as I suspected. The lire was as briskly returned : 
but the enemy finding it too hot, and losing a number ol 
men, retreated to and joined the right of this wing of their 

After this first attack, which continued from the first 
lire about half an hour, we brought* from the field 


six wounded soldiers and about twenty muskets. The 
wounded I placed in my rear, under the shade of some 
bushes; the arms I distributed to such of the soldiers as 
were most indifferently armed. The wounded Lieutenant 
I sent, with two soldiers, to Lord Stirling. 

After placing some Sentinels to observe the further 
movements of the enemy, if any should be made, I ordered 
my men, greatly fatigued, to rest themselves. In about 
twenty minutes the enemy was observed marching down 
to make a second attempt for the hill. The Sentinels gave 
the alarm. Officers find men immediately flew to arms, 
and with remarkable coolness and resolution sustained 
and returned their fire for about fifteen minutes, when the 
enemy were obliged once more to a precipitate flight, 
leaving behind them killed Lieutenant Colonel Grant, (a 
person, as I afterwards understood, much valued in the 
Britisli army,) besides a number of privates, and some 
wounded. Such of the wounded as I thought might be 
assisted I had brought in and placed with the rest in my 
rear; one slightly through the leg I sent with a soldier 
to Lord Stirling. I had in this attack but one private 
wounded, with two balls throusrh the bod v. 

I now sent my adjutant, Mr. Jitntgis, to his Lordship, 
with an account of the successive advantages I had gained, 
and to request a reinforcement, and such further orders 
as his Lordship should judge necessary. Two companies 
of Kiilemen from Keichlien's Flying-Camp, soon after 
joined me, but were very soon ordered to rejoin their 
regiment, the reason for which I could not imagine, as 
I stood in such need of them. Very luckily, after our 
second engagement our ammunition cart, belonging to 
Colonel Hunt ing ton s regiment, arrived at my post, of which 
we stood in great need, having entirely emptied our cart- 
ridge boxes, and had used several rounds of the enemy's 
ammunition, of which I stripped the dead and wounded 

I ! 


every time wo had the good fortune to beat them oil' the 
field. The officers were extremely alert, and from the 
ammunition so opportunely arrived, soon supplied their 

men with a sufficient stock to sustain another attack, it' 
the enemy should think proper to make it. 

They did not sutler us to wait long, for in about half an 
hour we were alarmed by our Sentinels of their approach 
the third time. The eagerness of the officers and soldiers 
to receive them deserve my warmest acknowledgements. 
They were received as usual, and as usual fled, after 
another conflict of about a quarter of an hour. I then was 
determined to pursue; but observing a regiment making 
down to sustain them, which proved to be the Forty-Second, 
or lloyal Highlanders, I thought best to halt and prepare to 
receive them, should they advance upon me ; but the 
drubbing their friends had so repeatedly received, I be- 
lieve, prevented them, and they seemed fully satisfied to 
have protected the fugitives, and of conducting what was 
left, with such of the wounded as could crawl to them, to 
the Army. In these three attacks Major Burd, who was 
then a prisoner at General Grant's quarters, informed me 
at New-York a great number, both officers and privates, 
were brought to the Hospital wounded. 

I fully expected as did most of my officers, that the 
strength of the British Army was advancing in this quarter 
to our lines. But how greatly were Ave deceived when 
intelligence was received by some scattering soldier- thai 
the right wing and centre of the Army, amongst which 
were the Hessians, were advancing to surround us. This 
we were soon convinced of by an exceeding heavy fire in 
our rear. }so troops having been posted to oppose the 
march of this grand body of the enemy's Army, bul 
Colonel JIUrs's two battalions of Rifles, Colonel Willts'sbtit- 
talion of Connecticut, and a part of Lutz a'- Kkehlkn's battu- 
lions of the Pennsylvania Flying-Camp, lonee more sent my 


adjutant to Lord Stirling, to acquaint him with the last 
success obtained by ray party, and to request his further 
orders; but receiving no answer, the Adjutant not return- 
ing, and waiting near three quarters of an hour for the 
enemy, they not approaching in front, but those in the rear 
drawing near, I thought it most prudent to join the Brigade, 
where I might be of more advantage than in my present 
situation. I therefore ordered a march, leaving upon 
the field killed. Lieutenant-Colonel Grant and about fifty 
others, and a number wounded and ten privates wounded 
which I had brought at sundry times into my rear, who I 
suppose were soon after found by their friends. What 
other officers were killed or wounded here I know not, 
except a Captain Kennedy, of the Forty-Fourth and the 
Lieutenant sent to Lord Stirling. 

How great was my surprise I leave any one to judge, 
when, upon coming to the ground occupied by our troops, 
to find it evacuated and the troops gone off, without my 
receiving the least intelligence of the movement, or order 
what to do, although I had so shortly before sent my Adju- 
tant to the General for that purpose. The General must 
have known, by my continuing in my post at the hill, I 
must, with all my party, inevitably fall a sacrifice to the 
enemy. An opportunity yet afforded, with risking the 
lives of some of us, of getting off But perceiving a body 
of the enemy advancing, which proved to be the English 
Grenadiers, under Lieutenant-Colonel Jloncklon, to fall 
upon the roar of our brigade, which I could see at a dis- 
tance, I ordered my party once more to advance and sup- 
port a few brave fellows, endeavoring to prevent, but 
without success, the destruction of their countrymen. The 
timely assistance of a number often tried, and as often 
victorious, encouraged those already engaged, and obliged 
the enemy to quit the ground they had gained and retire 
to a fence lined with trees. Here we kept up a close fire, 



until the brigade had retreated out of our sight, when, not 
being able, through the weakness of my party, already 
greatly fatigued, and once more destitute of ammunition, 
to break through the enemy, and finding my retreat after 
the brigade cut oil', I filed off to the right, to endeavour, 
if possible, to escape through that quarter. Lieutenant 
Caldwell, in this last attack, received a slight wound in the 
hand; Lieutenant-Colonel 3fonckion, of the Grenadiers, 
received a wound through the body. 

After marching about half a mile to the right, fell in 
with General Parsons and a small number by him collected. 
In consultation with the General it was determined to 
break through the enemy, who were here within a little 
way of us, and endeavour to make up the Island. I then 
pushed off, with such of the officers and soldiers that were 
willing to run this hazard. What became of General Par- 
sons I know not, never having seen him since. I had not 
gone above two hundred yards, when a Highlander made 
his appearance in the edge of a wood. I instantly pre- 
sented, as did some of those with me. The fellow clubbed 
his firelock and begged for quarter. I had hardly time 
to assure him of it, when I found him to be a decoy sent 
from a part)' of Highlanders^ within fifty yards of our right. 
I immediately jumped forward, ordering the party to fol- 
low, taking with me the Highlander's musket, which I had, 
fortunately for me, deprived him of. "We received in our 
flight the fire of this party, and sundry others through 
which we were obliged to run for near two miles. What 
of my party, or if any, in this flight were killed, wounded, 
or taken, I cannot tell, as it is uncertain how many, or 
who they were, that followed me. I imagined that if I 
could cross the Flaibush road, I could then make my es- 
cape by Hell-Gate, but coming to the road found it every- 
where strictly guarded. After trying the road in several 
places, both to the right and left, and finding no passage, 


we retired to an eminence about sixty perches from the 
road, to consult whether best to conceal ourselves in the 
adjacent swamps or divide into small parties, when we 
espied a party of Hessians, who had discovered and were 
endeavouring to surround us. The opinion we had formed 
of these troops determined us to run any risk rather than 
fall into their hands; and finding after all our struggles 
no prospect of escaping, we determined to throw ourselves 
into the mercy of a battalion of Highlanders posted upon 
an eminence near the Flatbush road, not far from where 
we had last sat. This we did about five o'clock in the 
afternoon to the number of twenty-three, thereby escaping 
the pursuit of a party of Hessians, who came to the High- 
landers immediately after our surrender. We had re- 
mained with this regiment above twenty minutes, during 
which time the officers and men behaved very civil, when 
we were conducted, under a strong guard, through the 
right wing of the enemy's Army to the Head-Quarters of 
General Howe at Bedford; receiving, as we passed, the 
most scurrilous and abusive language, both from the offi- 
cers, soldiers, and camp-ladies, every one at that time turn- 
ing hangman, and demanding of the guard why we were 
taken, why we were not put to the bayonet, and hanged, 
&c, &c, &c.j &e. 

Serenaded thus by the musical tongues of Britons, we 
arrived at Bedford, where, for sixteen besides myself, we 
were favoured with a soldier's tout, in which we had not 
room to lie down, and nothing allowed us for covering. 
To sum up the whole, we were consigned to the care of the 
most infamous of mankind, the Provost-Marshal, one 

Thus ended this most unfortunate 27th of Angus', 1770, 
d urine: which mvself and my detachment underwent great 
fatigue, and escaped death in a variety of instances. And 
J am happy to rellect that during the whole of this peril- 



ous day, one and all, to the utmost of their powers and 
abilities, exerted themselves in performing their several 
duties, for which I shall ever retain a grateful sense, and 
do, for and in behalf of my country, return them my sin- 
cere acknowledgments, as I flatter myself, under God, they 
were the means of twice preserving the brigade from 
being cut to pieces: first, in preventing the troops in which 
Grant bore a command from falling upon the left flank; 
and lastly, in so bravely attacking the Grenadiers, where 
Monckkm commanded, and thereby preventing the destruc- 
tion of the rear. In the first Grant fell, in the latter was 
Monckkm wounded. What followed since the 27th, I 
have not now time to insert; shall leave it till I have the 

pleasure of seeing you. 

S. J. Atlee. 

Of the Grenadiers, I hear there were besides officers, 
nearly sixty killed and wounded. 

[Americcm ArcMves, vol. I, 5tli Series, fol. 1251.] 

[ No. 17. ] 

Burning of Judge LefferVs House. Gen. Sullivan's Account 
of the Skirmish at Flaibush. 

Long Island, Aug. 23d, 1776. 
Deaii General: This afternoon the enemy formed, and 
attempted to pass the road by Bedford. A smart lire 
between them and the Eiflemen ensued. The officer sent 
off for a reinforcement, which I ordered immediately. A 
number of Musketry came to the assistance of the Rifle- 
men, whose fire, with that of our field pieces, caused a 
retreat of the enemy. Our men followed them to the 


Louse of Judge Lcffcrts (where a number of them had 

taken lodgings,) drove them out, and burnt the house and 

a number of other buildings contiguous. They think they 

killed a number; and, as evidence of it, they produce three 

officers' hangers, a carbine, and one dead body, with a 

considerable sum of money in pocket. I have ordered a 

party out for prisoners to-night. We have driven them half 

a mile from their former station. These things argue 

well for us, and I hope are so many preludes to a general 


Dear General, I am, with much esteem, your very humble 


Jko. Sullivan. 
To General Washing-ton. 


[American Archives, vol. i, 5th Series, fol. 113G.] 

[The foregoing letter was submitted to Congress by 
General Washington, with the following communication.] 

New York, August 24, 1776. 
To the President of Congress. 

Sir: The irregularity of the posts prevents your re- 
ceiving the early and constant intelligence it is my wish to 
communicate. This is the third letter which you will pro- 
bably receive from me by the same post. The first was of 
little or no consequence, but that of yesterday gave you 
the best information I had been able to obtain of the 
enemy's landing and movements upon Long-Island. Hav- 
ing occasion to go over thither yesterday, I sent my letter 
to the post office at the usual hour, (being informed that 
the rider was expected every moment, and would go out 
again directly,) but in the evening, when I sent to inquire, 
none had come in. 

I now enclose you a report made to me by General Sul- 
livan after I left Long-Island yesterday. 1 do not conceive 



that the enemy's whole force was in motion, but a de- 
tached party rather. I have sent over four more regiments 
with boats, to he ready to reinforce the troops under 
General Sullivan, or to return to this place if the remainder 
of the fleet at the watering place should push up to the 

I city, which hitherto (I mean since the landing upon Long- 

Island) they have not had in their power to do, on account 
of the wind, which has either been ahead, or too small 
when the tide has served. I have nothing further to 
trouble the Congress with at present, than that I am their 
and your most obedient, humble servant, 

Go. Washington. 


[Washington also wrote to Gen. Schuyler, on the 24th, 

an account of the skirmish at Flatbush, with some addi- 
tional particulars.] 

* * * On Wednesday night and Thursday morning 
a considerable body of the enemy, said to be eight or nine 
thousand, landed at Grave send Bay, on Long-Island. They 
have approached within three miles of our lines ; and 
yesterday there was some skirmishing between a detach- 
ment of them, and a party from our troops. Their de- 
tachments were obliged to give ground, and were pursued 
as far as where they had a post at a Judge Lefferts's, 
His house and outhouses served as quarters for them, and 
were burned by our people. We sustained no loss in this 
affair, that I have heard of, 'except having two men 
slightly wounded. Our people say the enemy met with 
more; they found one dead body, in the habit of a sol- 
dier, with a good deal of money in his. pocket, and got 


three hangers and a fusee. They fired a shell from a 
howitz, which fell on and burst in a house where some of 
the enemy were; but whether they were injured by it, I 
have not learned. A firing has been heard this morning. 
but know nothing of the event. 

Go. Washington, 

[Ibid., 1142.] 

[ lN T o. 18. ] 

Extracts from two Letters from an Officer in Col. Attee's 
Battalion, of Pennsylvania. 

Dated New York, August 27, 1776. 

Yesterday about one hundred and twenty of our men 
went as a guard to a place called Bed Lion, on Long Island. 
About eleven o'clock at night the sentries descried two 
men coming up a water-melon patch, upon which our men 
fired upon them ; the enemy then retreated, and about 
one o'clock advanced with about two or three hundred 
men, and endeavoured to surround our guard ; but they 
being watchful gave them two or three fires, and retreated 
to alarm the remainder of the battalion, except one Lieu- 
tenant and about fifteen men, who have not been heard 
of as yet. About four o'clock this morning the alarm 
was given by beating to arms, when the remainder of our 
battalion, accompanied by the Delaware and Maryland 
battalions, went to the place where our men retreated 
from. About a quarter of a mile on this side, we saw the 
enemy, when we got into th-e woods (our battalion being 
the advance guard) amidst the incessant fire of their field 
pieces, loaded with grape shot, which continued till ten 
o'clock. The Marylandcrs on their left flank, and we on 


their right, kept up a constant fire amidst all their cannon, 
and saw several of them fall ; but they being too many lor 
us, we retreated a little, and then made a stand. Our 
Lieutenant-Colonel, Parry, was shot through the head, and 
I was under the necessity of retreating with him to this 
place, in order to secure his effects. Since which I have 
heard the enemy are within six hundred yards of our lines.; 
which I think will cost them some number of men before 
they gain them. 

[American Archives, 5th Series, fol. 1183, vol. 1.] 

New York, August 2d, IVTG. 

I have just now come over to this place about some 
business, and embrace the opportunity of letting you 
know that I wrote you on the 27th instant, giving some 
particulars of our engagement. I now have to acquaint 
you that the enemy, endeavouring to force our lines, met 
with a warmer reception than they thought of; for the 
batteries began to play, and mowed them down like grass, 
when they retreated, and our Army cried out, u - the day 
is our own ;" but am sorry to inform you that Generals 
Sullivan and Stirling are taken prisoners, and that we have 
missing (which I apprehend are also taken) Colonel Atlec, 
Captain lloivell, Captain Herbert, Captain Murray, and 
Captain Kiev, Lieutenant Finney, Ensign Mustin, and Dr. 
Davis, with eighty privates ; so you mayjudge what a misera- 
ble battalion we must have. There is also missing from the 
Rifle battalion Colonel 3Iiles and Colonel Piper, with seve- 
ral other oflicers, whose names I have not as yet hoard, 
and a \\\. mber of privates. The enemy, by accounts which 
we have received, have lost (killed, wounded, and taken 
prisoners) about eight hundred men, among whom is 


General Grant killed. We expect every hour a second 
engagement, which I pray God may be more prosperous 
on our side than the last; for besides what I have men- 
tioned, the Delacarc and Maryland battalions Buffered much. 

[American Arc/iiccs, vol. i, fol. 1212.] 

[ Xo. IP. ] 

Tht Burning vf II:>\-$l6 at Wkctbushj and X ' by the 


Head Quarters. 25th of August, 1T7G. 
To Major General Putnam. 

Sir: It was with no small decree of concern, that I per- 
ceived yesteruay, a scattering, unmeaning, and wasteful 
tire from our people, at the enemy. Xo one good conse- 
quence can attend such irregularities, but several bad 
ones will inevitably follow from them. Had it not been 
for this unsoldierlike and disorderly practice, we have 
the greatest reason imaginable to believe, that numbers 
of deserters would have left the enemy's army last year: 
but fear prevented them from approaching our lines then, 
and must forever continue to operate, in like manner, 
whilst every soldier conceives himself at liberty to tire 
when and at what he pleases. This is not the only 
nor the greatest evil resulting from the practice ; for, as 
we do not know the hour of the enemy's approach to our 
line-, but have every reason to apprehend that it will be 
sudden and violent whenever attempted, we shall have 
our men so scattered, and more than probable without 
ammunition, thai the consequences must prove fetal to us ; 


besides this, there will be no possibility of distinguishing 
between a real and a false alarm. 

I must therefore, Sir, in earnest terms desire you to call 
the colonels and commanding officers of corps, without 
loss of time before you; and let them afterwards do the 
same by their respective officers, and charge them, in ex- 
press and positive terms, to stop these irregularities,- as 
they value the good of the service, their own honor, and 
the safety of the army, which, under God, depends wholly 
upon the good order and government that is observed in 
it. At the same time, I would have you form a proper 
■ line of defense round your encampment and works on the 
most advantageous ground. Your shards which compose 

CD Cj O Jl 

this defence, are to be particularly instructed in their duty, 
and a brigadier of the day is to remain constantly upon 
the lines, that he may be upon the spot to command, and 
see that orders are executed. Field-officers should also 
be appointed to go the rounds, and report the situation of 
the guards ; and no person should be allowed to pass be- 
yond the guards, without special order in writing. 

By restraining the loose, disorderly, and unsoldierlike 
firing before mentioned, I do not mean to discourage 
partisans and scouting parties; on the contrary I wish to 
see a spirit of this sort prevailing, under proper regula- 
tions, and officers, either commissioned or non-commis- 
sioned, as cases shall require, to be directed by yourself 
or licensed by the brigadier of the day upon the spot, to 
be sent upon this service. Such skirmishing as may be 
effected in this manner will be agreeable to the rules of 
propriety, and maybe attended with salutary effects, inas- 
much as it will inure the troops to fatigue and danger, 
will harass the enemy, and may make prisoners and pre- 
vent their parties from getting the horses and cattle from 
the interior parts of the Island, which are objects of infi- 
nite importance to us, especially the two last. All the 


men upon duty arc to be compelled to remain in or near 
their respective camps, or quarters, that they may turn out 
at a moment's warning ; nothing being more probable, 
than that the enemy will allow little time enough to pre- 
pare for the attack. ' The officers also are to exert them- 
selves to the utmost to prevent every kind of abuse to 
private property, and to bring every offender to the punish- 
ment he deserves. Shameful it is to find, that those men, 
who have come hither in defence of the rights of mankind, 
should turn invaders of it by destroying the substance of 
their friends. The burning of houses where the apparent 
good of the service is not promoted by it, and the pillag- 
ing of them, at all times, and upon all occasions, are to be 
discountenanced and punished with the utmost severity. 
In short, it is to be hoped, that men who have property of 
their own, and a regard for the rights of others, will shud- 
der at the thought of rendering any man's situation, to 
whose protection he had come, more insufferable than his 
open and avowed enemy would make it; when by duty 
and every rule of humanity they ought to aid, and not 
oppress, the distressed in their habitations. The distinc- 
tion between a well regulated army and a mob, is the 
good order and discipline of the former, and the licentious 
and disorderly behaviour of the latter. Men, therefore, 
who are not employed as mere hirelings, but have stepped 
forth in defence of everything, that is dear and valuable 
not only to themselves but to posterity, should take un- 
common pains to conduct themselves with the greatest 
propriety and good order, as their honor and reputation 
call loudly upon them to do it. 

The wood next to Red Hook should be well attended 
to. Put some of the most disorderly riflemen into it. 
The militia are the most Indifferent troops, those I mean 
who are least tutored and have seen least service, and will do 
for the interior works, whilst your best men should at all 



hazards prevent the enemy's passing the wood, and ap- 
proaching your works. The woods should he secured by 
abatis where necessary, to make the enemy's approach as 
difficult as possible. Traps and ambuscades should be 
laid for their parties, if you find they are sent out after cattle. 

I am, &c., 
Go. Washington, 

[Sparks's Letters of Washington, vol. iv, page G^.] 

[ No. 20. ] 

Gen. Sullivan at the Battle of Valley Grove. 

[Gon. John Sullivan was never subjected to a formal 
trial, though he felt it necessary to offer considerable evi- 
dence of his good conduct in the various affairs in which 
he participated. On the 25th of Oct., 1777, he wrote to 
the President of Congress, vigorously defending himself 
from the charges made against him on the floor of the 
House, and in this letter we obtain his only report of the 
battle of the 27th.] 

" Gaujp near "White Marsh, Oct. 25, 1777. 

"Much Esteemed Sin: In a letter from Mr. JBurk, mem- 
ber from North Carolina, dated the 12th inst., he informs 
me that he has represented to Congress that I was posted 
with the command on the right wing of our Army, pre- 
vious to. the battle of Brandy wine. 

" 2d. That I was early in the day cautioned by the Com- 
mander in Chief to be particularly attentive to the enemy's 
motions, who lie supposed would attempt to cross higher 
up the Creek: and that I was furnished with Light 


Troops for that purpose, which I neglected, and Buffered 

to come upon me by a route I never expected. 

iC 3d. That I com eyed false intelligence to the General, 
which caused him to alter his dispositions, and brought on 
a defeat. 

"4th. That when the mistake was at length discovered, 
I brought up my Troops by a circuitous march, and in a 
disorder from which they never recovered. 

" 5th. That he heard my officers lamenting in the bitter- 
est terms that they were cursed with such a Commander, 
whose evil conduct was ever productive of misfortune to 
the Army. 

" 6th. That my Troops had no confidence in my conduct. 

" 7th. That I had not sufficient talents for my rank and 
office; that I am void of judgment and foresight in con- 
cocting, of deliberate vigor in executing, and of presence 
of mind under accidents and emergencies, from which has 
arisen my repeated ill success." 

[After illustrating the injustice of these charges by a 
description of the various affairs, where he had commanded, 
he says :] 

"I know it has been generally reported that I com- 
manded on Long Island when the actions happened there. 
This is by no means true; General Putnam had taken the 
command from me four days before the action; Lord Stir- 
ling commanded the main body without the lines; I was 
to have command under General Putnam within the lines. 
I was very uneasy about a road through which I had often 
foretold the enemy would come, but could not persuade 
others to be of my opinion. I went to the Hill near 
Flatbush to reconnoitre the enemy, and, with a piquet 
of four hundred men, was surrounded by the enemy, 
who had advanced by the very road I had foretold, and 
which I had paid horsemen fifty dollars for patrolling by 



ittgbt, while I had tlie command, as I bad no foot for the 
purpose, for which I was never reimbursed, as it was sup- 
posed unnecessary. What resistance I made with these 
400 men against the British Army, I leave to the officers 
who were with me to declare. Let it suffice for me to 
say, the opposition of the small party lasted from half past 
nine to twelve o'clock. I challenge any person to mention 
a single instance of my being unfortunate, except in 
common with the Army; without them I have done nothing, 
except on Staten Island." * * * 

" P. S. The reason of the few Troops being on Long 
Island, was because it was generally supposed that the 
enemy's landing there was only a feint to draw our Troops 
there, that they might the more easily possess themselves 
Of Xew York. I have often urged both by word and 
writing, that, as the enemy had doubtless both these objects 
in view, they would first try for Long Island, which com- 
manded the other, and then ISTew York (which was com- 
pletely commanded by it) would fall, of course. But in 
this I was unhappy enough to differ from almost every 
o Ulcer in the Army till the event proved my conjectures 
were just." 

[In another letter written 'Nov. 9th, 1777, after bitterly 
rehearsing the subjects of his grievances, and the details 
of his services, Gen. Sullivan says :] " I had the misfortune 
en Long Island, with four hundred men, to combat with 
the greater part of the British Arm}' for near three hour.;, 
having been surrounded, by the enemy's coming by a route 
which I often, predicted, and which I had previous to Gen. 
Putnam's coming over and taking the command from 
me, paid fifty dollars to horsemen to patrol. I was so per- 
suaded of the enemy's coming the route, that I went to 
examine, and was surrounded by the British army, and 
after a long and severe engagement was made prisoner." 


[ "With these meagre and unsatisfactory details of the con- 
test at Valley Grove, we must now rest, expressing a wish 
that the General could have found it convenient to have 
prepared a full and circumstantial account. The letters 
from which these fragments have been taken, may, with 
other curious documents, be found in his papers relating 
to the battle of the Brandywine.] 

{Pennsylvania His. Soc. Bulletin, vol. I, No. 8."] 

[ lS T o. 21. ] 

Accounts of the Landing of the- British, and the Thunder Storm 

of Aug. 21. 

Dated August 22, 177 G. 

"This night we have reason to expect the grand attack 
from our barbarian enemies; the reasons why, follow: 
The night before last, a lad went over to Statcn- Island, 
supped there with a friend, and got safe back again undis- 
covered ; soon after he went to General Washington, and 
upon good authority reported, that the English Army, 
amounting to fifteen or twenty thousand, had embarked, 
and were in readiness for an engagement ; that seven ships 
of the line, and a number of oilier vessels of war, were to 
surround this city, and cover their landing; that the lies- 
sians, being fifteen thousand, were to remain on the Island, 
and attack Perth.- Ambog, Elizabeth-Town Point, and Bergen, 
while the main body were doing their best here; that the 
Highlanders expected America was already conquered, and 
that they were only to come over and settle on our lands, 
for which reason they had brought their churns, ploughs, 
&e.; being deceived, they had refused fighting, upon 
which account General Howe had shot one, hung live or 
six, and flogged many. 


"Last evening, in a violent thunder storm, Mr. 

(a very intelligent person) ventured over. He brings much 
the same account as the above lad, with this addition, that 
all the horses on the Island were, by Howe's orders, killed, 
barrelled up, and put on board, the wretches thinking 
that they could get no landing here, and of consequence 
be soon out of provision. That the Tories were used 
cruelly, and with the Highlanders were compelled to go 
on board the ships to fight in the character of common 
soldiers against us. The British Army are prodigiously 
incensed against the Tories, and curse them as the instru- 

• ments of the war now raging. Mr. further informs, 

that last night the fleet were to come up, but that the 
thunder-storm prevented. The truth of this appears, from 
the circumstance of about three thousand red-coats land- 
ing at ten o'clock this morning on Long Island, where, by 
this time, it is supposed our people are hard at it. There 
is an abundance of smock to-day on Long Island, our folks 
having set fire to stacks of hay, &e., to prevent the 
enemy's being benefited in case they get any advantage 
against us. All the troops in the city are in high spirits, 
and have been under arms most of the day, as the fleet 
have been in motion, and are now, as is generally thought, 
only waiting for a change of tide. Forty-eight hours or 
less, I believe, will determine, it as to Neio- Tori;, one way 
or the other. 

"The thunder-storm of last evening was one of the most 
dreadful I ever heard; it lasted from seven to ten o'clock. 
Several claps struck in and about the city ; many houses 
were damaged: several lives lost. Three officers, a Captain 
and two Lieutenants, belonging to Colonel McDougaWs 
regiment, encamped opposite to us, were struck instantly 
dead, the points of their swords for several inches melted, 
with a few silver dollars they had in their pockets; they 
(the persons) were seemingly masted. A dog in the same 


tent was also killed ; a soldier near it struck blind, deal', 
and dumb. One in the main street was killed, as likewise 
ten on Long Island; two or three were much burnt and 
greatly hurt. When God speaks, who can but fear? ' ; 

[American Archives, 5th Series, vol. i, 1111.] 

Extract from a Letter 

Dated New York, Aug. 2G, 1776. 
" Wednesday evening last we had here as violent a thun- 
der gust as has been remembered by the oldest man now 
living amongst us. The lightning struck a markce in 
General McJDougalVs camp, near the Mull's Mead in the 
Bowery, and instantly killed Captain Van Wyek and his 
two Lieutenants Verscreo.u and Depyster. A soldier named 
Ephraim Bartlet was also killed in the house of Mr. Joseph 
Mallet in Hanover Square, and several others much hurt. 
AYe also hear four men were killed on Long Island and 
some, houses and barns burnt near Tappan." 

[ibki, iics:] 

[ Xo. 22. ] 

Announcement of the Landing of the British to Gov. Trumbull 
by Gen. Washington. 

Nev/ York, August 2-1, 177G. 
Sir : On Thursday last the enemy landed a body of troops, 
supposed to amount (from the best accounts I have been 


able to obtain) to eight or nine thousand men, at Gravesend 
Bay on Long-Island, ten miles distance From our works on 
the Island, and immediately marched through the open 
lands to Flalbush, where they are now encamped. They 
are distant about three miles from our lines, and have 
woods and broken grounds to pass (which we have lined') 
before they can get to them. Some Bkirmishiug has 
happened between their advanced parties and our.-, in 
which we have always obtained an advantage. What the 
real designs of the enemy are, I am not yet able to de- 
termine. My opinion of the matter is, that they mean to 
attack our works on the Island and this city at the same 
time, and that the troops at Flaibush are waiting in those 
plains till the wind and tide (which have not yet served 
together) will favour the movement of the shipping to this 
place : others think they will bend their principal force 
against our lines on the Island, which, if carried, will 
greatly facilitate their designs upon this city. This also 
being very probable. I have thrown what force I can over, 
without leaving myself too much exposed here; for our 
whole number (if the intelligence we get from deserters, &c, 
be true) falls short of that of the enemy; consequently the 
defence of our own works, and the approaches to them, is all 
we can aim at. This, then, in. a manner, leaves the whole 
Island in possession of the enemy, and of course of the 
supplies it is capable of affording them. Under these 
circumstances, would it be practicable for your Govern- 
ment to throw a body of one thousand or more men across 
the Sound, to harass the enemy in their rear or upon their 
flanks ? This would annoy them exceedingly, at the same 
time that a valuable end, to wit, that of preventing then- 
parties securing the stocks of cattle, &c, would be answered 
by it ; the cattle to be removed or killed. The knowledge 
I have of the extraordinary exertions of your State upon 
all occasions, docs not permit me to require this, not 


koowlag how far it is practicable ; I only offer it, therefore 

as a matter for your consideration, and of great publick 
utility, if it c;tn be accomplished. 

The enemy, if my intelligence from Staien Island be 
true, are at this time rather distressed on account of pro- 
visions; if, then, we can deprive them of what this Island 
affords, much good will follow from it. 

The foreigners are yet upon Island, the British 
troops are upon Long-Island and on Ship-board. 

With great respect and esteem, I remain, sir, your most 
obedient, humble servant, 

Go. Washington. 
To Governour Trumbull, Connecticut. 

[American Archives, vol. r, otli Series,, folio 1143.] 

[ Iso. 23. ] 

Admiralty Office, October 10, 1770. 

Extract of a Letter from Lord Viscount Howe, Vice- Admiral 
of the White, and Commander-in-chief of his Majesty's shijys 
and vessels in North America, to Mr. Stephens, dated cm 
board the Eagle, off Bedlow's Island New- York, the 316/ day 
of August, 1776. 

" Gen, Howe, giving nie notice of his intention to make 
a descent in Graccsend Bag, on Long-Island, on tiie morn- 
ing of the 22d, the necessary disposition was made, and 
seventy-five flat boats, with eleven batteaus and two gal- 
leys, built for the occasion, were prepared for that service. 
The command of the whole, remained with Commodore 
Motkam. The Captains Walker ', Wallace, and Dickson, in 
the Phoenix, Jiose, and Greyhound, with the Thunder and 
Carcass bombs, under the direction of Colonel James, were 
appointed to cover the landing. The flat-boats, galleys, 
and three batteaus manned from the sbips-of-war, were 


ibruied into divisions, commanded respectively by the 
Captains Vandeput, Mason, Curtis, Caldwell, Phipps, Gaul 
field, Upplcby 9 nnd Duncan, and Lieutenant Ilecve, of the 
Eagle. The rest of the batteaus, making a tenth division, 
manned from the transports, were under the conduct of 
Lieutenant Bristow, an assistant agent. 

" Early in the morning of the 22d, the covering ships t<./< »k 
their station in Gra.vesmd.-Bay. The Light-Infantry, with 
ihe reserve, to be first landed, forming a corps together of 
four thousand men, entered the boats at Slo.tcn- Island the 
same time. The transports in which the several brigades 
composing the second debarkation (about five thousand 
men) had been before embarked, were moved down and 
suitably arranged without the covering ships by eight 
o'clock. The first debarkation not meeting with any oppo- 
sition, the second succeeded immediately after; and the 
other transports, carrying the rest of the troops, following 
the former in proper succession. The whole force then 
destined for this service, consisting of about fifteen thou- 
sand men, was landed before noon. 

" On the 25th, an additional corps of Hessian troops 
under General Heisier, with their field artillery and bag- 
gage, were conveyed to Gravesend Bay. 

t; Being informed the next day, by General Howe, of his in- 
tentions to advance with the army that night to the enemy's 
lines, and of his wishes that some diversion might be 
attempted by the ships on this side, I gave direction to 
Sir Peter Parker for proceeding higher up in the channel 
towards the town of New- York next morning, with the Asia, 
Hernial, Preston, (Commodore Hotham embarked in the 
Thamix, having been left to carry on the service in Graves- 
end-Bay,) Roebuck, and, and to keep those ships in 
readiness tor being employed as occasion might require; 
but the wind veering to the northward soon after the break 
of day, the ships could not be moved up to the distance 


proposed; therefore, when the troops under General Grant, 
forming the left column of the Army, were seen to be 
engaged with the enemy in the morning, the Jloebuck, 
Captain Hammond, leading the detached squadron, was 
the only ship that could fetch high enough to the north- 
ward to exchange a few random shot with the hatter) on 
Bcd-IIook: and the ehb making strongly down the river 
soon after, I ordered the signal to he shown for the squad- 
ron to anchor." 

[Force's American Archives, vol. 1, 1776, folio 1255.] 

[ Eo. 24. ] 

[The following official report of the battle was written 
by Gen. "Win. Howe at the Brettonerre farm-house in the 
village of Newtown, L. I., and addressed to Lord George 
Germain e.] 

Camp at Newtown, Long Island, September 3, 1776. 

My Lord: On the 22d of last month, in the morning, 
the British, with Colonel Donop's. corps of Chasseurs and 
Hessian Grenadiers, disembarked near Utrecht on Long 
Island without opposition, the whole being landed, with 
forty pieces of cannon, in two hours and a half, under the 
direction of Commodore Hoiham — Lieutenant-Greneral 
Clinton commanding the first division of the troops. 

The enemy had only small parties on the coast, who, 
upon the approach of the boats, retired to the woody 
heights, commanding a principal pass on the road from 
Flatbush to their works &t' Brooklyn. Lord Cormvallis was 
immediately detached to Flatbush with the reserve, (two 
battalions of Light-Infantry, and Colonel Donotfs Corps, 
with six field-pieces,) having orders not to risk an attack 


upon tlic pass if lie should find it occupied: which proving 
to be the case, his Lordship took post in the village, and 
the Army extended from the ferry at the Narroios, thro Uerh 
Utrecht and Gravescnd, to the village of Flatland. 

On the 25th, Lieutenant-General JDeHeister, with two 
brigades of Hessians from Staten-Island, joined the Army, 
leaving one brigade of his troops, a detachment of the Four- 
teenth Regiment from Virginia, some convalesce] its and 
recruits, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Dal- 
rumple, for the security of that Island. 

On the 26th, Lieutenant-General De Easier took post at 
. Flatbush, and in the evening Lord Cormvallis with the British 
drew off to Flatland. About nine o'clock the same night, 
the van of the Army, commanded by Lieutenant-General 
Clinton, consisting of the Light-Dragoons and brigade of 
Light-Infantry, the reserve under the command of Lord 
Cornwallis, excepting the Forty-Second Regiment, which 
was posted to the left of the Hessians, the First Brigade 
and the Seventy-First Regiment, with fourteen field- 
pieces, began to move from Flatland across the country 
through the new lots, to seize a path in the heights, ex- 
tending from east to west, along the middle of the Island, 
and about three miles from Bedford, on the road to Jamaica, 
in order to turn the enemy's left posted at Flatbush. 

August 27. — General Clinton being arrived within half a 
mile of the pass about two hours before daybreak, halted, 
and settled his disposition for the attack. One of his 
patrols, falling in with a patrol of the enemy's officers, 
took them ; and the General, learning from their informa- 
tion that the Rebels had not occupied the pass, detached a 
battalion of Lierht-Ihfantry to secure it; and advancing 
with his corps upon the first appearance of day, possessed 
himself of the heights with such a disposition as must have 
insured success, had lie found the enemy in force to oppose 


The main body of the Army, consisting of the guards, 
Second, Third, and Fifth Brigades, with ten field-pieces, 

led by Lord Percy, marched soon after General Clinton, 
and halted an hour before day in his rear. This column 
(the country not admitting of two columns of march) was 
followed by the Forty-Mnth Regiment, with four medium 
twelve-pounders, and the baggage closed the rear with 
separate guard. 

As soon as these corps had passed the heights, they 
halted for the soldiers to take a little refreshment, after 
which the march was continued, and about half an hour 
past eight o'clock, having got to Bedford, in the rear of the 
enemy's left, the attack was commenced by the Light- 
Infantry and Light-Dragoons upon large bodies of the 
Rebels, having cannon, who were quitting the woody 
heights before mentioned to return to their lines, upon 
discovering the inarch of the Army; instead of which they 
were drove back, and the Army still moving on to gain 
the enemy's rear, the Grenadiers and Thirty-Third Regi- 
ment, being in front of the column, soon approached within 
musket-shot of the enemy's lines at Brooklyn, from whence 
these battalions, without regarding the fire of cannon and 
small-arms upon them, pursued numbers of the Rebels, 
that were retiring from the heights so close to their prin- 

Cj CD i. 

eipal redoubt, and with such eagerness to attack it by 
storm, that it required repeated orders to prevail upon 
them to desist from the attempt. Had they been permitted 
to go on, it is my opinion they would have carried the 
redoubt; but as it was apparent that the lines must have 
been ours at a xovy cheap rate by regular approaches, I 
would not risk the loss that might have been sustained in 
the assault, and ordered them back to a hollow way in the 
front of the works, out of the reach of musketry. 

Lieutenant-Gcneral De Ilcister began soon after day 
break to cannonade the enemy in the front, and, upon the* 


approach of our right, ordered Colonel Donors corps to 
advance to the attack of the hill, following himself at the 
head of the brigades. The Light-Infantry, about that 
time having been reinforced by the light company, the 

Grenadier company, and two other companies of the 
Guards, who joined them with the greatest activity and 
spirit, had taken three pieces of cannon, and were warmjy 
engaged with very superior numbers in the; woods, when, 
on the Hessians advancing, the enemy gave way, and was 
entirely rooted in that quarter. On the left Major-General 
Grant, having the Fourth and Sixth Brigades, the Forty- 
Second Regiment, and two companies of New- York Pro- 
vincials, raised by Governour Trmn in the spring, advanced 
along the coast with ten pieces of cannon, to divert the 
enemy's attention from their left. About midnight, lie 
fell in with their advanced parties, and at daybreak, 
with a large corps, having cannon, and advantageously 
posted, with whom there was skirmishing and a cannonade 
for some hoars, until, by the firing at Brooklyn, the Rebels, 
suspecting their retreat would be cut oil', made a move- 
ment to the right, in order to secure it across a swamp and 
creek that covered the right of their works; but being 
met in their way by a part of the Second Grenadiers, who 
were soon after supported by the Seventy-First Regiment, 
and General Grant's left coming up, they suffered con- 
siderably : numbers of them, however, did get into the 
morass, where many were suffocated or drowned. 

The force of the enemy detached from the lines where 
General Putnam commanded was not less, from the best 
accounts I have had, than ten thousand men, who were 
under the orders of Major-General Sullivan, Brigadier- 
Generals Lord Stirling and Udell. Their loss is computed 
at about three thousand three hundred killed, wounded, 
prisoners, and drowned, with live field-pieces and one 
howitzer taken. A return of tile prisoners is enclosed. 


On the part of the King's troops, five officers and fifty- 
six non-commissioned officers and rank and file killed; 
twelve officers and two hundred and forty-live non-com- 
missioned officers and rank and file wounded; one officer 
and twenty Grenadiers of the Marines taken by mistaking 
the enemy for the Hessians. 

The Hessians had two privates killed, three officers and 
twenty-three rank and file wounded. The wounds are in 
general very slight. Lieutenant- Colonel Monekton is shot 
through the body, but there are the greatest hopes of his 

The behavior of both officers and soldiers, British and 
Hessians, was highly to their honour. More determined 
courage and steadiness in troops have never been experi- 
enced, or a greater ardour to distinguish themselves, as 
all those who had an opportunity have amply evinced by 
their actions. 

In the evening of the 27th, the Army encamped in front 
of the enemy's works. On the 28th, at night, broke 
ground six hundred yards distant from a redoubt upon 
their left, and on the 29th, at night, the Rebels evacuated 
their intrenchments and Bed-Hook, with the utmost 
silence, and quitted Gocernour's Island the following eve- 
ning, leaving their cannon and a quantity of stores in all 
their works. At daybreak on the 30th, their flight was 
discovered, the piquets of the line took possession, and 
those most advanced readied the shore opposite to New- 
York as their rear guard was going over, and fired some 
shot amongst them. 

The enemy is still in possession of the town and island 
of Mew York, in force, and making demonstration of oppos- 
ing us in their works on both sides of King's Bridge. The 
inhabitants of this Island, many of whom had been forced 
into rebellion, have all submitted, and are ready to take 
the oaths of allegiance. 


This dispatch will he delivered to your Lordship by Major 

Ctiylcr. my first Aid-de-camp, who, I trust, will he able to 

give your Lordship such further information as may be 


I have the honor to be, Sec, 

AVill. Howe. 

P. S. I have omitted to take notice, in its proper place, 
of a movement made by the lung's ships towards the 
town on the 27th, at daybreak, with a view of drawing off 
the attention of the enemy from our real design, which, 
I believe, effectually answered the intended purpose. 

[Am. Archives, vol. 1, 5tli Series, folio 1256.] 

[ No. 25. ] 

General Washington to the President of Congress. (Read 
September 2d, 1776). 

New-York, August 31, 17TG. 
Sin: Inclination as well as duty would have induced 
me to give Congress the earliest information of my re- 
moval, and that of the troops, from Long-Island and its 
dependencies to this city the night before last; but the 
extreme fatigue which myself and family have undergone, 
as much from the weather since as the engagement on the 
27th, rendered me and them entirely unfit to take pen in 
hand. Since Monday, scarce any of us have been out of 
the lines till our passage across the East River was effected 
yesterday morning; and for forty-eight hours preceding 
that, I had hardly been off my horse, and never closed my 
eyes, so that I was quite unfit to write or dictate till this 


Our retreat was made without any loss of men or am- 
munition, and in better order than I expected from the 
troops in the situation ours were. AVc brought oil' our 
cannon and stores, except a few heavy pieces, which, in 
the condition the earth was, by a long-continued rain, we 
found, upon trial, impracticable ; the wheels of the car- 
riages sinking up to the hubs, rendered it impossible for 
our whole force to drag them. We left but little provi- 
sions on the Island, except some cattle, which had been 
driven within our lines, and which, after many attempts 
to force across the water, we found impossible to effect, 
circumstanced as we were. 

I have enclosed a copy of the Council of W&v y held pre- 
vious to the retreat, to which I beg leave to refer Congress 
for the reasons, or many of them, that led to the adoption 
of that measure. 

Yesterday evening and last night a party of our men 
were employed in bringing our horses, cannon, tents, &c., 
from Governour's Island, which they nearly completed. 
Some of the heavy cannon remain there still, but I expect 
will be got away to-day. 

In the engagement on the 27th Generals Sullivan and 
Stirling were made prisoners; the former has been per- 
mitted, on his parole, to return for a little time. From my 
Lord Stirling I had a letter by General Sullivan, a copy of 
which I have the honour to transmit. That contains his 
information of the en m cement with his brigade. It is not 
so full and certain as I could wish; he was hurried most 
probably, as his letter was unfinished. Nor have I been 
yet able to obtain an exact account of our loss; we sup- 
pose it from seven hundred to one thousand killed and 

General Sullivan sa}-s Lord Howe is extremely desirous 
of seeing some of the members of Congress, for which pur- 
pose he was allowed to come out, and to communicate to 



them what has passed between him and his Lordship. I 

have consented to his going to Philadelphia, as I did not 

mean, or conceive it right, to withhold or prevent him 

from giving such information as he possesses in this instance. 

I am much hurried, and engaged in arranging and 

making new dispositions of our forces; the movement of 

the enemy requiring them to be immediately had; and 

therefore have only time to add, that I am, with my 

best regards to Congress, their and your most obedient, 

1 nimble servant, 

Go. Washington. 

[American Archives, 5th Scries, fol. 1244. vol. i.] 

Gen. Washington to the New York Convention. 

New York, Aug. 30, 177G. 

Sir: Your favor of this date is just come to hand. Cir- 
cumstanced as this Army was, in. respect to situation, 
strength, &e., it was the unanimous advice of a council of 
General Officers to give up Long-Island and not, by divid- 
ing our force, be unable to resist the enemy in any one 
point of attack. This reason, added to some others, 
particularly the fear of having our communication cut off 
from the main, (of which there seemed no smallprobabili Ly,) 
and the extreme fatigue our troops w T ere laid under in 
guarding such extensive lines without proper shelter from 
the w r eather, induced the above resolution. 

It is the most intricate thing in the world, sir, to know 
in what manner to conduct one's self with respect to the 
Militia: if you do not begin many days before they are 
wanted, to raise them, you cannot have them in time; if 
you do, they get tired and return, besides being under hut 
very little order or government whilst in service. How- 
ever, if the enemy have a design of serving us at this place 


as we apprehend they mount to do on Long-] aland, it 
might not be improper to have a body in readiness to pre- 
vent or retard a landing of them, on the east of Harlem 
River, if need be. 

In baste, and not a little fatigued, I remain, with great 
respect and esteem, sir, your most obedient bumble ser- 

Go. Washington. 

To the Hon. Abm. Yates, Jun., Esq., President, &c. 
[Ibid, fol. 1230.] 

[ 'No. 26. ] 

Account of Battle, and lite Loss of the Maryland Battalion, by 
Col. Smallwood. 

Camp of the Maryland Regulars, Head-Quarters, Oct. 12, 177G. 

Sir. : Through your bands I must beg leave to address 
the honourable Convention of Maryland, and must confess 
not without an apprehension that I have incurred their 
displeasure for having omitted writing when on our march 
from Maryland for New- York, and since our arrival here. 
oNor shall I, in a pointed manner, urge anything in my 
defence, but leave them at large to condemn or excuse 
me, upon a presumption that, should they condemn, they 
will at least pardon, and judge me perhaps less culpable 
wben they reflect, in the first instance, on the exertions 
necessary to procure baggage-wagons, provisions, and 
house-room for seven hundred and fifty men, marched the 
whole distance in a body, generally from fifteen to twenty 
miles per day, as the several stages made it necessary; 
and in the latter I trust they will give some indulgence for 
this neglect, for, since our arrival at New- York, it has been 


the fate of this corps to be generally stationed at advanced 
posts, and to act as a covering party, which must una- 
voidably expose troops to extraordinary duty and hazard, 
not to mention the extraordinary vigilance and attention 
in the commandant of such a party in disposing in the 
best manner, and having it regularly supplied; for here 
the commanders of regiments, exclusive of their military- 
duty, are often obliged to exert themselves in the depart- 
ments of Commissary and Quarter-master-General, and 
even directors of their Regimental Hospitals. 

Perhaps it may not be improper to give a short detail 
of occurrences upon our march to Long-Islmul, and since 
that period. 

The enemy, from the 21st to the 27th of August, were 
landing their troops on the lower part of Long-l'dan*', 
where they pitched a large encampment, and ours and 
their advanced parties were daily skirmishing at long-shot, 
in which neither party suffered much. On the 26th, the 
Maryland and Delaware troops, which composed part of 
Lord Stirling's brigade, were ordered over. Colonel Has- 
let and his Lieutenant- Colonel, Bedford, of the Delaware, 
battalion, with Lieutenant-Colonel Hare and myself, were 
detained on the trial of Lieutenant-Colonel Zcdw'dz ; and 
though I waited on General Washington, and urged the 
necessity of attending our troops, yet he refused to dis- 
charge us, alleging there was a necessity for the trials 
coming on, and that no other Field Officers could be then 
had. After our dismission from the Court-Martial, it was 
too late to get over, but, pushing over early the next morn- 
ing, found our regiments engaged, Lord Stirling having 
marched them off before day to take possession of the 
the woods and difficult passes between our lines and the 
enemy's encampment. But the enemy, the overnight, 
had stole a march on our Generals, having got through 
those passes, met and surrounded our troops on the plain 


grounds, within two miles of our lines. Lord Stirling drew 

up his brigade on an advantageous rising ground, where 
he was attacked by two brigades in front, headed by the 
Generals Gornwallis and Granl,hnd. in his rear the enemy's 
main body stood ready drawn up to support their own 
parties, and intercept the retreat of ours. This excellent 
disposition, and their superior numbers, ought to have 
taught our Generals there was no time to be lost in secur- 
ing their retreat, which might at first have been effected, had 
the troops formed into a heavy column and pushed their 
retreat; but the longer this was delayed, it became the 
more dangerous, as they were then landing more troops 
in front from the ships. Our brigade kept their ground 
for several hours, and in general behaved well, having 
received some heavy fires from the artillery and. musketry 
of the enemy whom they repulsed several times; but their 
attacks were neither so lasting or vigorous as was expected, 
owing, as it was imagined, to their being certain of mak- 
ing the whole brigade prisoners of war; for, by this time, 
they had so secured the passes on the road to our lines, 
(seeing our parties were not supported from thence, which 
indeed, our numbers would not admit of,) that there was 
no possibility of retreating that way. Between the place 
of action and our lines there lay a large marsh and deep 
creek, not above eighty yards across at the mouth, (the 
place of action upon a direct line did not much exceed a 
mile from a part of our lines,) towards the head of which 
creek there was a mill and bridge, across which a certain 
Colonel Ward, from Netc-England, who is charged with 
having acted a bashful part that day, passed over with his 
regiment, and then burnt them down, though under cover 
of our cannon, which would have checked the enemy's 
pursuit at any time, othenvays this bridge might have 
afforded a secure retreat. There then remained no other 
prospect but to surrender or attempt to retreat over this 



marsh and creek at the mouth, where no person had ever 
been known to cross. In the interim I applied to General 
Washington for some regiments to march out to support 
and cover their retreat, which lie urged would be attended 
with too great risk to the party and .the line.-. lie i in me- 
diately afterwards sent for and ordered me to march down 
a New England regiment, and Captain Thomas's company, 
which had just come over from York, to the month of the 
Creek, opposite where the brigade was drawn up, and 
ordered two field-pieces down to support and cover their 
retreat, should they make a push that way. Soon after 
our march they began to retreat, and, for a small time, the 
iire was very heavy on both sides, till our troops came to 
the marsh, where they were obliged to break their order, 
and escape, as quick as they could, to the edge of the 
creek, under a brisk fire, notwithstanding which they 
brought off twenty-eight prisoners. The enemy taking 
advantage of a commanding ground, kept up a continual 
fire from four field-pieces, which were well served and 
directed, and an heavy column advancing on the marsh 
must have cut our people off: their guns being wet and 
muddy, not one of them could have fired; but having 
drawn up the musketry, and disposed of some Riflemen 
conveniently, with orders to fire on them when they came 
within shot, however,- the latter began their fire too soon, 
being at two hundred yards distance, which, notwithstand- 
ing, had the desired effect, for the enemy immediately 
retreated to the fast land, where they continued parading 
within six hundred yards till our troops were brought 
over. Most of those who swam over, and others who 
attempted to cross before the covering party got down, 
lost their arms and accoutrements in the mud and creek, 
and some poor fellows their lives, particularly, two of the 
Maryland, two of the Delaware, one of Atlee's Pennsylvania, 
and two Hessian prisoners, were drowned. Thomas's men 


contributed much in bringing over this party. Have en- 
closed a list of the killed and missing, amounting to two 
hundred and fifty-six, officers included. It has been said 
the enemy, during the action, also attacked our lines, but 
this was a mistake. iSTot knowing the ground, one of their 
columns advanced within long shot without knowing they 
were so near, and upon our artillery and part of the mus- 
ketry's firing on them, they immediately fled. 

The 23th, during a very hard rain, there w r as an alarm 
that the enemy had advanced to attack our lines, which 
alarmed the troops much, but was without foundation. 

The 20th, it was found, by a council of war, that our 
fortifications were not tenable, and it was therefore judged 
expedient that the army should retreat from the island 
that night; to effect which, notwithstanding the Maryland 
troops had had but one day's respite, and many other 
troops had been many days clear of any detail duty, they 
were ordered on the advanced post at Fori Putnam, within 
two-hundred and fifty yards of the enemy's approaches, 
and, joined with two Pennsylvania regiments on the left, 
were to remain and cover the retreat of the army, which 
was happily completed under cover of a thick fog and a 
southwest wind, both which favored our retreat; otherwise 
the fear, disorder, and confusion of some of the Eastern 
troops must have retarded and discovered our retreat, and 
subjected numbers to be cut off. 

After remaining two days in New- York, our next station 
was at Harlaem, nine miles above, at an advanced post 
opposite to Monircsorc s and Bahama's Islands, which in 
a few days the enemy got possession of without opposition, 
from the former of which we daily discoursed with them, 
being within two hundred' yards, and only a small creek 

It being judged expedient to abandon New- York, and 
retreat to our lines below Fori Washington, the military 


stores, &c, had been removing some days, when, on the 
loth September, the enemy effected a landing ou several 
parts of the island below, and, it is cutting to say, without 
the least opposition. 

I have often read and heard of instances of cowardice, 
but hitherto have had but a faint idea of it till now. I 
never could have thought human nature subject to such 
baseness. I could wish the transactions of this day blotted 
out of the annals of America. Nothing appeared but 
fright, disgrace, and confusion. Let it suflice to say, that 
sixty Light-Infantry, upon the first fire, put to flight two 
brigades of the Connecticut troops — wretches who, how- 
ever strange it may appear, from the Brigadier-General 
down to the private sentinel, were caned and whipped by 
the Generals Washington, Putnam, and Mifflin, but even 
this indignity had no weight, they could not be brought 
to stand one shot. 

General Washington expressly sent and drew our regi- 
ment from its brigade, to march down towards New-York, 
to cover the retreat, and to defend the baggage * * * 

I am, vary respectfully, your obedient and very humble 


W. Smallwood. 

To the Hon. Matthew Tilghmau, Esq., President Conven- 
tion of Maryland. 

[American ArcJiives, vol. n, 5tli Series, folio 1011.] 

[ No. 27. ] 
Colonel Haslet to Thomas Rodney. 

Camp at Mount Washington, October 4, 177f>. 
On Sunday, the 25th of August last, my regiment was 
ordered to Long-Island, in Lord Stirling's brigade, composed 


mostly of the Southern troops, by whom we were much 
caressed, and highly complimented on our appearance and 
dexterity in the military exercise and manoeuvres. On 
Tuesday, the 27th, his brigade, consisting of live regiments, 
and a few of Sullivan's, not exceeding five thousand men, 
were ordered to advance beyond the lines and repulse the 
enemy. To oppose this small band were seventeen thou- 
sand regulars, muehbetter furnished with field-pieces and 
every other military appointment than we. Several of the 
regiments were broken and dispersed soon after the first on- 
set. The iJelawarcs and Mary landers stood firm to the last; 
and after a variety of skirmishing, the Dclatcares drew up 
on the side of a hill, and stood upwards of four hours, with 
a firm, determined countenance, in close array, their 
colours Hying, the enemy's artillery playing on them all 
the while, not daring to advance and attack them, though 
six times their number, and nearly surrounding them. 
JSTor did they think of quitting their station till an express 
order from the General commanded their retreat through 
a marsh and over a creek, the only opening left, which 
they effected in good order, with the loss of one man 
drowned in passing. The Dclatcares alone had the honor 
of bringing oil' twenty-three prisoners. 

I must also do Colonel Snmllwood's battalion the justice 
to say, that the spirited attack made by them on the 
enemy, at the time the Delawares and themselves were re- 
treating, greatly facilitated the escape of both. Twenty- 
seven of the Ddaicarcs next morning were missing. In 
that number were Lieutenants Stewart and Harney ; the 
latter a prisoner, the other not yet heard of. Major 
McD&hough was wounded in the knee; a ball passed 
through the sleeve of his coat without wounding the arm 
or his bod}'. Lieutenant Anderson had a ball lodged in 
his throat; Lieutenant Corn *i ball still in his back; they 
are recovered. The standard was torn with shot in Ensign 



Stephens's band, who is now in his element, and a most 
excellent officer. Such is our fate. The Delaware batta- 
lion, officers and men, are respected throughout this army. 
Yv r e are now in General Mifflin's brigade, who a few days 
since was appointed Quartermaster-General, and by special 
order we encamp on the lines, near the General's house. 
In the retreat from Long-Island, which was conducted with 
great prudence, Colonels Slice, Smalbxood, Hand, and some 
others I do not recollect, were called into Council, and re- 
quested to take the defence of the lines upon us, while the 
main body of the army crossed the JEast River to New York, 
which was accepted; and last of all crossed ourselves, 
thank God, in safety. 

[American Archives, vol. 11,5th Scries, folio 831.] 

[ No. 28. ] 

Colonel Harrison to the President of Congress. 

New-York, August 27, 1776, eight o'clock, p. M. 
Snt : I this minute returned from our lines on Long- 
Island where Heft his Excellency the General. From him 
I have it in command to inform Congress that yesterday 
he went there, and continued till evening, when, from the 
enemy's having landed a considerable part of their forces, 
and many of their movements, there was reason to appre- 
hend they would make, in a little time, a general attack. 
As they would have a wood to pass through before they 
could approach the lines, it was thought expedient to place 
a number of men there, on the different roads leading 
from whence they were stationed, in order to harass and 


annoy them in their march. This being clone, early this 
morning a smart engagement ensued between the enem\ 
and our detachments, which being unequal to the force 
they had to contend with, have sustained a pretty consi- 
derable loss: at least many of our men are missing. 
Among those that have not returned are General Sullivan 
and Lord Stirling. The enemy's loss is not known cer- 
tainly; but we are told by such of our troops that were in 
the engagement and that have come in, that they had 
many killed and wounded. Our party brought off a Lieu- 
tenant, Sergeant, and Corporal, with twenty privates, 
prisoners. While these detachments were engaged, a 
column of the enemy descended from the woods and 
marched towards the centre of our lines, with a design to 
make an impression, but were repulsed. This evening they 
appeared very numerous about the skirts of the woods, 
where they have pitched several tents, and his Excellency 
inclines to think they mean to attack and force us from 
our lines by way of regular approaches, rather than in 
any other manner. 

To-day five ships of the line came up towards the town, 
where they seemed desirous of getting, as they turned a 
long time against an unfavorable wind. And on my re- 
turn this evening, I found a deserter from the Twenty- 
Third Regiment, who informed me that they design, as 
soon as the wind will permit 'em to come up, to give us a 
severe cannonade and to silence our batteries, if possible. 

1 have the honour to be, in great haste, sir, your most 

IIol. II. Harrison. 
(Same to General Mercer.) 

[America?! Archives, 5th Strict, fol, 1183, vol. i.] 



[ No. 29. ] 

Lord Stirling to General Washington. 

Eagle, August :>{), 177G. 
My Dear General: I have now an opportunity of 
informing you of what has happened to me since I had last 
the pleasure of seeing you. About three o'clock on the 
morning of the 27th I was called up, and informed by 
General Putnam that the enemy were advancing on the 
road from Flatbusli to the lied Lyon, and ordered me to 
march with the two regiments nearest at hand to meet 
them; these happened to be Haslet's and Smallivood's, with 
which I accordingly marched, and was on the road to the 
Narrows, just as the day-light began to appear. "We pro- 
ceeded to within about half a mile of the Red Lyon, and 
there met Colonel Atlee with his regiment, who informed 
me that the enemy were in sight; indeed I then saw their 
front between us and the Red Lyon. I desired Colonel 
Atlee to place his regiment on the left of the road, and 
wait their coming up, while I went to form the two regi- 
ments I had brought with me, along the ridge from the road 
up to a piece of wood on the top of the hill; this was done 
instantly on very advantageous ground. Our opponents 
advanced and were fired upon in the road by Alice's, who, 
after two or three rounds, retreated to the wood on my left, 
and there formed. By this time Kiehlims Riflemen arrived ; 
part of them I placed along a hedge under the front of 
the hill, and the rest in the front of the wood. The troops 
opposed to me were two brigades, of four regiments each, 
under the command of General Grant, who advanced their 
light troops to within one hundred and fifty yards of our 
right front, and took possession of an orchard titer*.', im<\ 
some hedges which extended towards our loft: this 



brou glit on an exchange of fire between those troops and 
our Riflemen, which continued for about two hours, and 
then ceased by those light troops retiring to their main 
body. In the mean time Captain Carpenter brought up 
two field pieces, which were placed on the side of the hill 
so as to command the road, and the only approach for some 
hundred yards. On the part of General Grant there were 
two field-pieces; one howitz advanced to within three 
hundred yards of the front of our right, and a like detach- 
ment of artillery to the front of our left, on a rising; ground 
at about six hundred yards distance. One of their brigades 
formed in two lines opposite to our right, and the others ex- 
tended in one hue to top of the lulls in the front of our left ; 
in this position we stood cannonading each other till near 
eleven o'clock, when I found that General Howe, with the 
main body of the Army, was between me and our lines, 
and saw that the only chance of escaping being all made 
prisoners was to pass the creek near the Yellow Mills; and 
in order to render this the more practicable, I found it 
absolutely necessary to attack a body of troops commanded 
by Lord GomwaEis, posted at the house near the Upper 
Mills ; this I instantly did, with about half of Smallwood's, 
first ordering all the other troops to make the best of their 
way through the creek. We continued the attack a con- 
siderable time, the men having been rallied and the attack 
renewed five or six several times, and were on the point 
of driving Lord Gormvallis from his station, but large suc- 
cours arriving rendered it impossible to do more than to 
provide for safety. I endeavored to get in between that 
house and Fori Box, but on attempting it I found a con- 
siderable body of troops in my front, and several in pursuit 
of me on the right and left 5 and a constant firing on me. 
I immediately turned the point of a hill which covered me 
from their fire, and I was soon out of the reach of my 
pursuers. I soon found it would be in vain to attempt 


to make my escape, and therefore went to surrender 

myself to General Be llcislcr, commander-in-chief of the 

[American Archives, 5th Scries, fol. 1245, vol. 1.] 

[ No. 30. ] 

Account of Col. Heed. 

New York, August 30, 1770. 
Colonel Reed to General William Livingston. 

Dear Sir : Though I am much fatigued, not having had 
my clothes off since Monday evening, and no sleep for two 
nights, I sit down cheerfully to comply with your request. 
On General Greene's being sick, Sullivan took the command, 
who was wholly unacquainted with the ground or country. 
Some movements beinsc made which the General did not 
approve entirely, and finding a great force going to Long- 
Island^ he sent over Putnam, who had been over occasion- 
ally ; this gave some disgust, so that Putnam was directed 
to soothe and soften as much as possible. In this condi- 
tion things were, and growing more critical. Lord Stirling 
went over; some regiments were also sent; they wore 
ordered to lay in a wood near Flatbush, but the road from 
Jamaica having been neglected, they were surprised on 
Tuesday morning. The picket of eight hundred men, I 
fear, mostly ran off at the first fire, but several regiments 
being ordered out, and ignorant of the Jamaica rout, as 
soon as they engaged they found themselves surrounded, 
so that they were obliged to cut their way through. 
Many of them behaved well, and have suffered accordingly. 
Our loss I compute at seven hundred men, two General 


Officers, (Sullivan and Stirling), nine Colonels and Lieu- 
tenant-Colonels, two or three Majors, and several other 
Officers. The two first are prisoners, and well used. We 
had a letter from Sullivan yesterday. Colonels killed and 
missing are Atke,, Piper, Parry, (killed;) Lieutenant- 
Colonel Johnson, LutZj Kachlin, Clark, Major Burd, and 
one or two I don't. 

The principal loss has fallen on First Pennsylvania batta- 
lion, Atlee, Small wood, Huntington, and Haslet? s; all of 
whom behaved so as to command the admiration of all 
those who beheld the engagement My Lord, who loved 
discipline, made a mistake, which probably affected us a 
great deal; he would not suffer his regiments to break, 
but kept them in lines and on open ground. The enemy, 
on the other hand, possessed themselves of the woods, 
fences, &c., and having the advantage of numbers, per- 
haps ten to one, our troops lost everything but honour. 
His personal bravery was very conspicuous. As this wood 
made a capital part of the Long-Island defence, and Lord 
Howe was every day attempting, with the wind ahead, to 
get up to town, it became a serious consideration whether 
we ought to risk the fate of the Army, and perhaps Amc- 
riea, on defending the circle of about three miles, fortified 
with a few strong redoubts, but chiefly open lines. When 
the heavy rains came on not half of the men had tents; 
they lay out in the lines, their arms, ammunition, &c, all 
got wet; they began to sink under the fatigues and hard- 
ships. The enemy at the same time possessed themselves 
of a piece of ground very advantageous, and which they 
had . We were therefore reduced to the alternative 

of retiring to this place, or going out with to drive 

them off; it was unanimously agreed to retire, and mea- 
sures taken to execute it, which, was done in the face of 
their Army, so effectually that between sunset and sunrise 
our men, ammunition, all our artillery, (except five pieces 


of heavy cannon,) the greater pari of our prisoners, were 
got off undiscovered and safely landed here. We shall 
now therefore have oar whole strength collected together, 
and govern ourselves accordingly. We took thirty pri- 
soners and one officer from the enemy, and Lave reason to 
think their loss also considerable. In General Sullivan's 
note, he says Lord Stirling will be exchanged for either 
of their Brigadiers, from which we suppose two are killed, 
as they are not in our hands. A Sergeant brought in a 
laced hat, shot through, and the name of Colonel Grant 
wrote in it, from which we suppose he is certainly killed, 
and ma} 7 he General Grant since promoted. 

I have given you the substance, and I believe it is pretty 

I am, with great truth and esteem, &c., your most obe- 
dient, humble servant, 

Jos. Reed. 

[American Archives, 5th Series, fol. 1231, vol. i.] 

[ ]S T o. 31. ] 

Letter from Lieut Col. James Chambers of Col. Band's Batta- 
lion of Riflemen, descriptive of the Battle of the 27th of August. 

la camp at Pelamerc's Mills, 

three miles above King's Bridge, September 3, 1770. 

My Dear Kitty : I should have written to you sooner, 
but the hurry and confusion we have been in for some time 
past, has hindered me. I will now give you a short ac- 
count of transactions in this quarter. 

On the morning of the 22nd of August there were nine 
thousand British troops on New Utrecht plains. The 
guard alarmed our small camp, and we assembled at the 


flagstaff. We marched our forces, about two hundred in 
number, to ]\ T ew Utrecht, to watch the movements of the 
enemy. When we came on the hill, we discovered a party 
of them advancing toward us. We prepared to give them 
a warm reception, when an imprudent fellow fired, and they 
immediately halted and turned toward Flatbush. The 
main body also, moved along the great road toward the 
same place. We proceeded alongside of them in the edge 
of the woods as far as the turn of the lane, where the 
cherry trees were, if you remember. We then found it 
impracticable for so small a force to attack them on the 
plain, and sent Captain Hamilton with twenty men, before 
them to burn all the grain ; which he did very cleverly, 
and killed a great many cattle. It was then thought most 
proper to return to camp and secure our baggage, which 
we did, and left it in Fort Brown. Xear 12 o'clock the 
same day we returned down the great road to Flatbush 
with only our small regiment and one ]S r ew England regi- 
ment sent to support us, though at a mile's distance. 
When in sight of Flatbush, we discovered the enemy, but 
not the main body; on perceiving us, they retreated down 
the road perhaps a mile. A party of our people com- 
manded by Captain Miller followed them close with a 
design to decoy a portion of them to follow him, whilst 
the rest kept in the edge of the woods alongside of Captain 
M. But they thought better of the matter and would not 
come after him though he went within two hundred yards. 
There they stood for a long time, and then Cap. Miller 
turned oil' to us, and we proceeded along their flank. 

Some of our men fired upon and killed several Hessians, 
as we ascertained two days afterwards. Strong guards 
were maintained all day on the Hanks of the enemy, and 
our regiment and the Hessian yagers kept up a severe firing 
with a loss of but two wounded on our side. We laid a 
few Hessians low, and made them retreat out of Flatbush. 



(Jar people went into the town, and brought the good-, out 
of the burning houses. 
The enemy liked to have lost their field-pieces. Captain 

Steel, of your vicinity, acted bravely. We would cer- 
tainly have had the cannon had it not been for some 
foolish person calling retreat. The main body of the ion 
returned to the town; and when our lads came back, they 
told of their exploits. This was doubted by some, which 
enraged our men so much that a few of them ran and 
brought away several Hessians on their backs. This kind 
of tiring by our riflemen and theirs continued until ten 
(two?) o'clock in the morning of the 26th, when our regi- 
ment was relieved by a portion of the Flying Camp; and 
we started for Fort Greene to get refreshment, not having 
lain down the whole of this time, and almost dead with 
fatigue. "We had just got to the fort, and I had only laid 
down, when the alarm guns were fired. AYe were com- 
pelled to turn out to the lines, and as soon as it was light 
saw our men and theirs engaged with iield-pieces. At last, 
the enemy found means to surround our men there upon 
guard, and then a heavy firing continued for several hours. 
The main body that surrounded our men marched up within 
thirty yards of Forts Brown and Greene ; but when we fired, 
they retreated with loss. From all I can learn we num- 
bered about twenty-live hundred, and the attacking party 
not less than twenty- live thousand, as they had been land- 
ing for davs before. Our men behaved as bravely as men 
ever did; but it is surprising that, with the superiority of 
numbers, they were not cut to pieces. They behaved gal- 
lantly, and there are but live or six hundred missing. 

General Lord Stirling fought like a wolf, and is taken 
prisoner. Colonels Miles and Atiee, Major Bird, Captain 
J 'copies, Lieutenant Watt, and a great number of our 
other officers also prisoners; Colonel Piper missing. 
From deserters, we learn that the enemy lost Major-Gene- 


ral Grant, and two Brigadiers, and many others, and five 
hundred killed. Our loss is chieily iu prisoners. * * * 
The Pennsylvania troops wore done great honor by being- 
chosen the corpsderescrve to cover the retreat. The regi- 
ments of Colonels Hand, ITagan, Shea, and Hazlett were 
detailed for that purpose. We kept up fires, with outposts 
stationed, until all the rest were over. We left the lines 
after it was fair day, and then came off. 

jS'ever was a greater feat of generalship shown than in 
this retreat; to bring off an army of twelve thousand men 
within sight of a strong enemy, possessed of as strong a 
ileet as ever iloated on our seas, without any loss, and sav- 
ing all the baggage. 

General Washington saw the last over himself. 

[Chamhcrsburg in the Colony and the Revolution.'] 

[ Tsfo. 32. ] 

Accov.nt of the Massacre by a British officer. 

[Extract of a letter from an officer in General Frazicr's Battalion.] 

Dated September 3d, 17TG. 
Rejoice, my friend, that we have given the Rebels a 

d d crush. We landed on Long-Island the 22d ult., 

without opposition. On the 27th we had a very warm 
action, in which the Scots regiments behaved with the 
greatest bravery, and carried the day after an obstinate 
resistance on the Rebel side. But we flanked and over- 
powered them with numbers. The Hessians and our brave gave no quarters, and it was a fine sight to sec 
with what alacrity tliey dispatched the Rebels with their 
bayonets after we had surrounded them so that they could 
not resist. Multitudes were drowned and suffocated in 



morasses — a proper punishment for all Rebels. Our bat- 
talion outmarched all the rest, and was always lirst up 
with the Rebel fugitives. A fellow they call Lord StirUftg t 
one of their Generals, with two others, is prisoner, and a 
great many of their officers, men, artillery, and stores. 
It was a glorious achievement, my friend, and will immor- 
talize us and crush the Rebel Colonies. Our loss was 
nothing. We took care to tell the Hessians that the Jiebcls 
had resolved to give no quarters to them in particular, 
which made them fight desperately, and put all to death 
that fell into their hands. You know all stratagems are 
lawful in war, especially against such vile enemies to their 
King and country. The Island is all ours, and we shall 
soon take New- York, for the Bebels dare not look us in the 
face. I expect the affair will be over this campaign, and we 
shall all return covered with American laurels, and have the 
cream of American lands allotted us for our services. 

[Lest any of those persons who affect not to believe anything against 
the British soldiers, and will pretend to say that the above letter, 
which exactly tallies with their conduct as heretofore represented, is 
an American forgery, we would inform them that the English paper 
from whence the above is taken may be seen in the hands of the 
printers in Hartford — Mass. Spy] 

[American Archives, vol. i, 5th Series, fob 1259.] 

[ Ho. 33. ] 

Maryland Council of Safety to Delegate in Congress [at Phila- 

Annapolis, August 1G, 1770. 

Sir : AVe received yours of the 13th, and have seen what 
you wrote to Major Jenifer on the state of publick affairs. 

In consequence of a resolve of the Convention, we have 
given orders to all the Independent Companies (four in 


number), to march. Colonel Carvcll HalVs and Colonel 
Ewing's, and six or seven companies on the Eastern Shore, 
have like orders to march; so that, with Griffith's battalion, 
we shall have near four thousand men with you in a short 
time. This exceeds our proportion for the Flying-Cam p, 
but we are sending all that we have that can be armed 
and equipped ; and the people of New- York, for whom 
we have great affection, can have no more than our all. 
Enclosed you have a list of the several battalious and 
companies. * * * * 

P. S. These companies are not all folly armed and 
equipped, but we hope soon to collect enough. 

List of the Troops for Maryland. 

Smallwood '$ Battalion nine Companies, 76 each, - - 681 
Captain Vcazey, 100, Captain Uindmcui 100, Captain 

Thomas 100, - : - - 300 

Captain Beall 100, Captain Gunby 100, - - - 200 

Captain Wcolford 100, Captain Wathins 100, - - 200 

Griffith's Battalion, nine Companies, 90 men each, - 810 

Colonel Carvel Mail's do do - - 810 

3 Companies of Colonel Eivinfs ----- 270 
7 Companies of Eastern-Shore Battalion, - - - 641. 

The remaining Companies of Ewbvfs and the Eastern- 
Si '.ore Battalion must borrow arms from the Militia to do 
duty here ; they can get arms on no other terms. 

Maryland Committee of Safety to Cajiiains Smith and Perkins. 

Annapolis, August 1C, 1776. 
Gentlemen : By desire of the Convention you arc to 
march your Compauies, a? soon as they are ready, to 



Philadelphia, where you will receive further orders. The 

service requires the greatest despatch, and we earnestly 

request you to exert yourselves on this occasion. AVe 

have written the Committee to supply you with camp 

kettles, gnu-slings, wooden bottles, and cartouch boxes. 
* * * 

[Subsequent orders indicate the greatest Zealand interest 
in defending ISTew York from the common enemy. The 
generous and noble sons of Maryland responded to the 
call of the Convention with equal enthusiasm, and with 
the loftiest courage and patriotism devoted themselves to 
the cause of liberty, in which they perished.] 

[American Archives, vol. I, 5tli Series, fol. 075.] 

[ No. 34. ] 

Extract from a Journal kept by Captain George, Harris, of the 
bih Begiment of British Infantry. Subsequently Lord George 

" On the 5th August we made the harbour of Few 
York, and at the entrance joined the very fleet with which 
I had so much wished to sail, and of which ours in fact, 
was the second part. On the 18th I got quit of the re- 
cruits to my great satisfaction, and joined my company on 
Staten Island. About the 20th we embarked in boats for 
Long Island, and landed, without opposition, in Grave- 
send Bay; marched six miles inland, and halted till the 
26th. A large body of the Americans near us keeping 
up a fire from behind walls and trees. About 4 p. m. of the 
26th, struck tents, and lay on our arms during the night 
about three miles from Bedford ; and though in summer, it 
was the coldest night I have experienced up to this tune 


(Nov. 25th). Such sudden changes of climate are not un- 
common here. The weather is now most unnaturally hot 
and close, after severe frosts. 

" At daybreak, the 27th, the light infantry attacked and 
forced several small posts which the Americans had on 
the road leading to their lines at Bedford. This appeared 
to he the first notice they had of our being near to them. 
About nine we fired two signal guns to a part of the army 
under General Grant, who was to make a feint in the 
front of the Americans, while we got round to their rear, 
and immediately marched briskly up to them, when, 
almost without firing a shot, they abandoned their post, 
and retreated to their lines under cover of their guns, 
(these they also evacuated two or three days after, retiring 
upon New York during the night). Our men were most 
eager to attack them in their lines, and I am convinced 
would have carried them, but we were ordered to retreat 
out of reach of their guns, and lay from about four p. M., till 
very near dark, at the entrance of a small wood, exposed 
to the fire of their riflemen. During the whole evening 
they hit but one man, though their balls continually 
whistled over our heads, and lodged in the trees above us. 
Their loss that day is acknowledged by them to have been 
above 2,600; ours about 300 in killed and wounded. 

" On the 30th the reserve, with the light infantry, again 
left the army, which the next day took peaceable posses- 
sion of all the American works on Long Island, and en- 
camped near Hell Gate." * * * 

[In a letter written nearly at the same period Captain 
Harris says of Col. Medows : ] 

" lie led us on to action in the most gallant manner, and 
I am convinced that if Gen. Howe had made a sign for us 
to follow the Americans into their. works we would have 


done it. Thanks to the General's prudence we have ef- 
fected this object without the loss of the many brave fellows 
who must have fallen in the attempt." 

[LusJdngton's Life and Services of Gen. Lord Iltwris.] 

[ No. 35. ] 

Extract from an account of the landing and battle on Long 
Island, compiled by G. S. Baincr from the Journals and 
original papers of Sir George Collier, Commander of Hie 


" Sir George Collier, in the Rainbow of 44 guns, Com- 
modore Hotham, in the Preston of 50 guns, and four 
other men-of-war were appointed to escort this formidable 
force to America. The fleet having completed their water 
and provisions, and the wind admitting of their sailing, 
they left Spithead about the 20th of May, amounting in all 
to ninety-two sail, eighty-six of which were transports, and 
the rest men-of-war. 

This first division consisted of 7,800 Hessians, and wore 
commanded by Lieutenant-General Dc Ilcister, with some 
other General officers under him ; together with a numer- 
ous and well-appointed train of artillery, wagons, field 
equipage, and every other necessary preparation for taking 
the field. To these were added 1,000 of the English 
guards, under Colonel Matthews, who, on the arrival of the 
Hessian troops at Spithead, immediately embarked in 
transports prepared for them. 

The incidents of the voyage are little worth mentioning, 
except that some of the transports, by thick weather and 
other causes, separated from their convoy: the i'o^ on the 


hanks of Newfoundland making it very difficult for Ihc 
fleet to keep together. This disagreeable impediment con- 
tinued till they arrived off the coast of Nova Scotia, and it 
was then found, upon coming into clear day light, that 
about seventeen sail of the convoy were missing. 

After the evacuation of Boston, our troops retired to 
Halifax, and it was expected they would remain at that 
settlement till joined by the reinforcements from England. 
Accordingly, this fleet pursued their voyage for Halifax, 
but were informed in coming off the harbour, that General 
Ifowe and his army had embarked from thence, and were 
ffone to Xew York. 

This was disagreeable news for the sick men, of whom 
there were already great numbers, and who, after a tedious 
and uncomfortable voyage of nine weeks, were in hopes 
of meeting with a little quiet and refreshment. The 
expectation, however, was illusive ; for as the service would 
not admit of any delay, the fleet, without anchoring, turned 
their prows to the southward, and shaped a course for New 

This passage was again very tedious, for calms con- 
trary winds, and currents, drove the fleet in such ad- 
verse directions, as baffled every reckoning, though kept 
by the ablest artists. The old General, T)e Heister, who 
was embarked on board a merchant ship, exhausted his 
whole stock of tobacco and patience together. He wrote n 
letter, couched in terms of grief, impatience, and despair. 
"I have been imposed on and deceived,*' said the old 
veteran ; ' ; for I was assured the voyage would not exce< d 
six or seven weeks, — it is now more than fourteen since I em- 
barked, and full three months since I left England, yet T 
sue no more prospect of landing than I did a week after 
our sailing. I am an old man, covered with wounds, and 
imbecilitated by age and fatigues, and it is impossible I 
should survive if the voyage continues much longer" Sn 


George Collier went on board the transport, to visit and 

comfort the old General; and to do it more effectually than 
by words, he carried with him refreshments, fresh provi- 
sions, &c, but, above all, plenty of tobacco, which he 
learned was one principal cause of the veteran's dejection. 
This, and an assurance that the voyage would now soon 
terminate, raised the old German's spirits very effectually. 
He ordered his band of music to play, — he called for old 
Hock, and swallowed large potations to the healths of the 
King of England, the Landgrave, and many other friends, 
and Sir George left him perfectly exhilarated and happy. 

After a passage of about thirteen weeks from England, 
the convoy arrived at Sandy Hook, whore they found Lord 
Howe, who had taken upon him the command of the fleet. 
The army, under his brother, was encamped on Statcn 
I&land, within sight of the city of New York. 

The Hessian troops were immediately disembarked, and 
formed a separate camp. The great plenty of refreshment 
they received, soon recovered them from the fatigues of 
their long voyage, and rendered them perfectly iit for ser- 
vice. General Howe had now the satisfaction of finding 
himself at the head of full twenty-four thousand fine troops, 
most completely furnished and appointed, commanded by 
the ablest and best officers in the world, and having a more 
numerous artillery than ever before was sent from England. 
Four hundred transports were anchored abreast of Statcn 
Island, to carry them to any place the General might 
choose to attempt; and thirty-seven sail of men-of-war 
attended as a protection and escort, if it should be wanted. 
A force so tremendous by sea and land, struck terror into 
the breast of every rebel, and they gave up, as hopeless^ 
that independence which they had the presumption to pro- 
claim but a little before. 

From the nearest part of Statcn Island, the city of New 
York was distant about six miles. The rebels had thrown 


Dp some trifling works on the different points of land Ii ad- 

ing up to it, but the channel was not intricate, and no on, 
conceived that the dislodging them from the posts they had 
taken, and becoming masters of Hew York, would In- 
attended with any great hazard or difficulty. Mr. Wash- 
ington, (a gentleman of property in Virginia, who had 
formerly served in the American troops last war against 
the French), bad the chief command, of the rebel army, 
and took upon himself the title of General. The utmosl 
of bis collected force did not amount to sixteen thousand 
men, all of whom were undisciplined, imiised to war, deficient 
in clothing, and even necessaries, and very ill-provided wit!) 
artillery and ammunition. His officers were tradesmen of 
different professions, totally unacquainted with discipline, 
and consequently utterly unskilled in the art of war. 

Such was the exact state of both armies before any 
operation was undertaken. Justice on the royal side, and 
treason on the other, made the balance still more unequal. 

The season was already too far advanced to lose a mo- 
ment from enterprise. The troops panted with the most 
gallant, ardour to be led on to action ; the men-of-war were 
impatiently anxious to attack the rebel batteries, (believing 
the traitors who were to defend them, would soon give up 
the point,) and longing to tear down and trample upon 
the thirteen stripes, which were seen insolently waving on 
bastions in many different places. 

Six fife-ships appeared at this time under the walls of 
New- York, menacing the fleet at Staten Island. Had 
they attempted burning the transports in some dark night, 
when the wind and tide were favourable, much damage and 
confusion might, have ensued, but they had not courage to 
hazard it. 

About this period, Commodore Sir Peter Parker, in 
the Bristol of 50 guns, joined Lord Howe, together with 
some frigates and transports, in the latter of which came 



General Clinton, and a strong reinforcement of troops. 
This small fleet arrived from South Carolina, where an 
ill-judged attack had been made, and from which the 
king's ships were disgracefully forced to retreat, with the 
loss of three frigates and the mainmast of the Bristol. 

The arrival of a crippled ship and a defeated officer, at 
this time, was very unwelcome ; for it infused fresh spirit* 
into the rebels, and showed them that ships were sometimes 
obliged to retreat from batteries. 

Though every thing was apparently ready for going on 
service by the 15th August, yet it was the 26th before any 
enterprise was undertaken. On the morning preceding 
that day, Lord Howe (the Commander-in-chief,) seat for 
Sir George Collier, and acquainted him, that early next 
morning the troops were to make a descent in Gravesend 
Bay, upon Long Island, under cover of the iire of the 
men-of-war. The Admiral, therefore, directed Sir George 
to place the Rainbow in the Narrows, abreast of a large 
stone building, called Denyke's, (where he understood the 
rebels had cannon and a strong post,) in which situation 
the Rainbow would also be able to enfilade the road lead- 
ing from Xew-York, and thereby prevent reinforcements 
being sent to the rebel outposts, as well as to their troops, 
who were stationed to oppose the landing. 

By the dawn of day, the Rainbow was placed as the 
Admiral had directed. The principal engineer of the 
army had come on board in the night, to assist in di- 
recting the fire, and to point out any bands of loyal subjects, 
who might possibly approach, with an intention of joiuiug 
and assisting the royal army. 

The rebels, intimidated at the tremendous force which 
appeared in the flat boats, withdrew their outposts, and 
suffered the Ring's troops to land without the least oppo- 
sition. Sir 11. Clinton, with the grenadiers and light 
infantry of the army, got first on shore. /They were soon 


after followed by other bodies of men, making in nil about 
10,000: — with these last came General Howe, the com- 
mander-in-chief of the army, who marched to the small 
village of Utrecht, where he established his headquarters. 
Earl Cornwallis occupied the advanced post at Ftatbush. a 
hamlet six miles from Utrecht. 

The army remained in this situation without advancing, 
for some days; in which time the train of artillery, am- 
munition, baggage, and provisions were landed. Six 
regiments of the Hessians also joined the army, which 
amounted now to upwards of 20,000 men, besides those who 
remained on Staten Island. 

At last, General Howe began his march towards 3STew* 
York, the army moving in three columns, by as many 
different roads. Some of the rebel outposts were surprised, 
and the men all put to death with the bayonet. They fled 
in a panic wherever the royal troops appeared. A small 
stand was made by about 3,000 of them, who found them- 
selves hemmed in: 2,500 of these were presently killed 
and made prisoners; the rest frightened, defeated, and dis- 
mayed, were pursued to the edge of a ditch of a temporary 
work they had thrown up, into which the victorious troops 
would have entered with them, heal they not been restrained 
by the most positive orders of the General. The retreat 
was sounded, and the conquering army halted. Their ar- 
dour was, by this means, cruelly checked; and one of the 
most glorious opportunities of ending the rebellion lost. 
It was said, the considerate General, careful of the lives of 
his men, intended to attack these paltry retrenchments by 
way of sapient. However that was, the rebels did not give 
him the trouble of breaking ground before it, but in silaia 
and terror abandoned their works as soon as it was dark, 
and crossing the East River in boats, got safely over, with- 
out obstruction, to JSTew-York, with their artillery, baggage, 


and provisions, where they joined General Washington 
and the remainder of the rebel army. 

The enemy's loss in killed and wounded, in the different 

skirmishes on Long Island, was about 4,000 men. 
Amongst the prisoners were two of their Generals, — one 
named Sullivan, who had been bred a lawyer; the other 
calling himself Lord Stirling. About 0,000 rebels, com- 
manded by old Gates, fled across the water, who might 
all have been taken prisoners, had our troops been suffi red 
to push on, or even if the men-of-war had proceeded to at- 
tack the batteries, as by getting into the East River they 
• would have prevented boats from passing. Washington's 
arm}-, with this reinforcement, amounted to 11,000 men; 
ours was at least double that number. As fresh reinforce- 
ments from Staten Island had joined the General, the 
men-of-war had moved gradually up as the troops ad- 
vanced, and when the latter got to the margin of the East 
Eiver, (which was about half a mile across,) the ships an- 
chored just out of gunshot of the batteries of Xew-Yoik. 

The having to deal with a generous, merciful, forbearing 
enemy, who would take no unfair advantages, must surely 
have been highly satisfactory to General Washington, and 
he was certainly very deficient in not expressing his grati- 
tude to General Howe for his kind behaviour towards him. 
Far from taking the rash resolution of hastily passing over 
the East Eiver after Gates, and crushing at once a frightened, 
trembling enemy, he generously gave them time tojrecovcr 
from their panic, — to throw up fresh works, — to make new 
arrangements, — and to recover from the torpid state the 
rebellion appeared in from its late shock. 

For many succeeding days did our brave veterans, consist- 
ing of twenty-two thousand nien, stand on the banks of 
the East Eiver, like Moses on Mount Pisgah, looking at 
their promised land, little more than half a mile distant. 
The rebel's standards waved insolently in the air. from 


many different quarters of Xew York. The British troops 
could scarcely contain their indignation at the sight and at 
their own inactivity ; the officers were displeased and amazed, 
not being able to account for the strange delay. Gates 
fled across the river on the 29th August. The Rainbow 
(with Sir George Collier), went to sea from thence on 
another service on the 8th September, at which time the 
royal army still remained on the same spot inactive, and 
without making any motions whatever. How long they 
continued this state of torpidity, or lohat followed their 
reanimation, cannot have place here; these pages being- 
only intended to give an account of the services in which 
Sir George Collier was himself particularly en^a^cd. 

[Detail of some Particular Services performed in America, daring the 
years 1? ?6— 9, etc. Printed for Itliiel Town from a manuscript ; New York, 
1835 ; and in the Nmal Chronicle, 1841.] 

[ Is T o. 86. ] 

Extract of a Letter from, an Officer in the Maryland, Bail-Aim. 
dated Long Island, Wednesday Morning, daybreak. 

August 28, 1770. 
I have the pleasure to inform you that I have survived a 
very warm engagement yesterday. Our battalion lias suf- 
fered much ; a great number of both officers and men are 
killed and missing. We retreated through a very heavy 
five, and escaped by swimming over a river, or creek rather. 
My height was of use to me, as I touched almost all the 
way. A number of men got drowned. I have lost no 
officers, and but few men. Captain Veazey, and Lieutenant 
Butler fell early in the engagement. We are now all sate 
in our lines and fort-. 



The affair yesterday was only a skirmish on the Island, 
about three miles from our works. The particulars T can 
not now give you, but we were deceived, and at one time 
surrounded with, I am convinced, ten thousand men. Our 
General, Lord Stirling, is missing. 

[American Archives, 5th Series, foL, 1195, vol. i.] 

[ Xo. 37. ] 

Return of Prisoners taken on Loxg-Islaxd, [by the J3ritisJ>7\, 
August 27th, 1776. 


Three Grenerals. 
Mnjor-G eneral Sullivan , 
Brigadier-General Lord Stirling 
Brigadier-General Udell. 

Three Colon ds. 
Pennsylvania Rifle Regiment 
Pennsylvania Musketeers 
New-Jersey Militia - 

Four Lieutenant- Colonels. 
Pennsylvania Rifle Regiment 
Pennsylvania Militia - - 
17th Continental Regiment - 

Three Majors. 
Pennsylvania Militia - - - 
17 tli Continental Regiment 
22d Continental Regiment - 

Eigh teen Capta ins. 
Pennsylvania Rifle Regiment 
Pennsylvania Musketeers 
Pennsylvania Militia - 
3 7th Continental Regiment 
Train of Artillery - - - - 

Forty- Three Lieutenants. 
Provincial Rifle Regiments 
Pennsylvania Musketeers- 
Pennsylvania Militia- - - 
17th Continental Regiment 
Delaware Battalion - - ■ 
1 i 1st Battalion Ncns York Con- 

1 | tinental 

1 | 11th Battalion Continental 
j New-Jersey Militia - - - 
j 1st Battalion Maryland Inde- 



Long Island Militia - - - 
Train of Artillery . - - 
Maryland Provincials - ■ 

Eleven Ensigns. 
Pennsylvania Musketeers 
-j ; 17th Continental Regiment 
i Maryland Provincials - • 











Maryland P 



4 Surgeons 

5 Volunteers - 
4 ! Privates - - 

1 I 

9 Total 

- 1 




N.B. Nine Officers and fifty-eight Privates of the above wounded. 
Jos. Loring, Commis, of Prisoners. 

[American Archives, fol. 12oS, vol. I, 5tli Series.] s 


JRelum of Brass and Iron Ordnance taken from the enemy in 
the engagement on the 21th of August, 1776, and found in 
their different Redoubts on Long-Island and Governour's 

Camp at Newtown, September 3, 177(5. 

Brass Ordnance taken in the engagement 27 August, 177G. 
One five and half-inch howitzer, four 6-pounders, one 3-pounder. 
Total of Brass Ordnance, G. 

Iron Ordnance found in the different Forts on Long-Island and 
Govehnour's Island. 

Six 32-pounders, one 24-poimdcr, four 18-pounders, two 12- 
pounders, two 9-pounders, eight 6-pounders, three 3-pounderS. 
Total of Iron Ordnance, 2G. 

A quantity of shot, shells, ammunition, intrenching tools, small- 
arms, a number of long pikes, ammunition carts, and many other 
articles not at present ascertained. 

W. Howe, Commander-in-Chief. 


Return of the Killed, Wounded, and Missing, of the following 
Corps, August 27, 17HI. 

First Battalion of Light-Infantry : — Four Rank and File, killed : 
two Sergeants, one Drummer, twenty-one Hank and File, wounded, 
one Rank and File. Mi-sing. 

Second Battalion of Light- Infantry. — Four Rank and File killed; 
one Captain, two Lieutenants, one Sergeant, twenty-seven Rank File 

Third Battalion of Light- Infantry. —-Three Rank and File, killed ; 
six Rank and File wounded. 



First Battalion of Grenadiers, — One Rank and File, killed j 
four Rank and File, wounded. 

Second Jtattalwn of Grenadiers, — Two Captains, one Ser- 
geant, nine Rank and File, killed ; one Lieutenant-Colonel, one 
Captain, three Lieutenants, one Drummer, thirty-two Rank and 
File, wounded j one Lieutenant, one Sergeant, twenty Rank and 
File, missing. 

Third Battalion of Grenadiers. — One Rank and File, 

Fourth Battalion of Grenadiers. — One Hank and File, killed ; 
one Sergeant, eleven Fvank and File, wounded; one Rank and 
File, missing. 

33<7 Regiment. — Four Rank and File, wounded. 
42el Regiment. — One Lieutenant, nine Lank 


4th Regiment. — None killed, wounded, or missing. 
\5fh Rfc/iinent. — Two Fvank and File, wounded. 
21th Regiment. — None killed, wounded, or missing. 
45th Regiment. — None killed, wounded, or missing. 


5th Regiment. — None killed, wounded, or missing. 
28th ditto. ditto. ditto. 

35th ditto. ditto. ditto. 

49fh ditto. ditto. ditto. 

tnd File, 


10th Regiment. — None killed, wounded or missing. 
37th ditto. One Rank aud File, wounded. 

Three Rank and File, wounded. 

oSth ditto. 

52d ditto. One Rank and File, killed ; seven Rank and 
File, wounded ; one Rank and File, missing. 

17th Regiment. — One Captain, two Rank and File, killed; one 
Lieutenant, one Sergeant, nineteen Rank and File, wounded. 

40th Regiment. — One Lieutenant-Colonel, one Rank and File, 
killed ; five Rank and File, wounded. 

4Gth Regiment. — Four Rank and File, wounded. 
55tli Regiment. — One Rank and File, killed ; three Rank and File, 




22d Regiment. — One Hank and File, killed; one Rank and File, 

43d Regiment. — One Rank and File, killed. 

ii-UJi Regiment. — None killed, wounded, or missing. 

G'.IJ Regiment. — None killed, wounded, or missing. 


2%d Regiment. — One Sergeant, six Bank and File, killed; one 
Captain, one Sergeant, twenty-six Rank and File, wounded. 

44th Regiment. — Ten Rank and File, killed; one Lieutenant, one 
Sergeant, seventeen Rank and File, wounded. 

lutli Regiment. — One Rank and File, killed. 

CAth Regiment. — None killed, wounded, or missing. 


71$f Regiment. — Three Rank and File, killed; two Sergeants, 
nine Rank and File, wounded; six Rank and File missing. 

Nnc-Yorlx Companies. — Four Rank and File, killed; two Ser- 
geants, one Drummer, fourteen Rank and File, wounded. 

Royal Artillery. — One Lieutenant, one Sergeant, killed; five 
Rank and File, wounded, 

Total : One Lieutenant-Colonel, three Captains, one Lieutenant, 
three Sergeants, fifty-three Rank and File, killed; one Lieutenant- 
Colonel, three Captains, eight Lieutenants, eleven Sergeants, three 
Drummers, two hundred and thirty-one Rank and File, wounded; 
one Lieutenant, one Sergeant, twenty-nine Rank and File, missing. 

List of Officers, killed, wounded, and missing. 

KiUid. — Captain Sir Alexander Murray 
" Lieutenant-Colonel Grant - 

" Captain Nelson 

Captain Logan - 
" Second Lieutenant Lovell 

Wounded. — Lieuo-nant Morgan 
" Captain Grove 

" Lieutenant Crammond - 

u Lieutenant Mair 

" Lieutenant Weir 

" Captain Brown - 

" Captain Kennedy - 

" Lieutenant Brown 

" Lieutenant-Colonel Mon<;kton 

" Lieutenant Powell 

•' Lieutenant Addison 

Lieutenant Nugent - - - 1st Regiment Marines. 

17th Regiment. 





2d Regiment Marine 

Royal Artillery. 















44 th 









Mis*in>j. — Lieutenant Ra,gg, 2d Regiment Marines, prisoner, 
Hessian Troops. — Two Rank and File, killed; twenty-three Rank and 
File, wounded. 
Major Paoli, Captain O'Reilly, Lieutenant Donop, wounded. 

W. Howe, Commander-in-Chief. 

[American Archives, vol. I, otli series, folio 1258.] 

[ Fo. 38. ] 

Affidavit of Lieut. Robert Troup, mad/ before Gouvcrneur 
Morris who was ordered by the Convention of (he State of 
New York, to prepare a 'narrative of the eondtict of British 
officers and troops towards the A meriean prisoners, cie. 3 and 
to collect affidavits for that purpose. 

Dutchess County, ss : — Bobert Troup, Esquire, late lieu- 
tenant in Colo. Lasher's battalion of militia, being duly 
sworn upon the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God, 
deposeth and saith, that he, this deponent, about three 
o'clock in the morning of the twenty-seventh day of August 
last, was made a prisoner of war on Long Island, by a 
detachment of the British troops; that deponent, together 
with Lieutenant Dunscombe, Adjutant Hooglandt and two 
volunteers, were carried immediately to the main body of 
the British army, and interrogated by the generals of the 
same; that they were there threatened with being hung 
for entering into the American service; that from thence 
they were led to a house near Flat Bush : that several of 
the British officers came there, by whom they were grossly 
insulted ; that about nine o'clock in the morning the)' were 
led in the rear of the army to Bedford ; that while there, 
deponent, with seventeen other officers who had been 
made prisoners that morning, were confined under the 
provost guard, in a small soldiers' tent ; in which, they 
were left two nights and near three days; that it rained 


very hard during the greater part of the time, and the 
prisoners were obliged by turns to go out of the tent, 
there not being sufficient room for them to stay within it: 
that about sixty private soldiers were also kept prisoners 
at the same place, having also one tent, and only one, to 
shelter them from the weather; that while deponent was 
confined at Bedford, he, together with the officers with 
him, were much abused and treated with the grossest lan- 
guage by almost all the British officers, and in their pre- 
sence by the British soldiers; that the provost marshal], 
one Cunningham, brought with him a negro with a halter, 
telling them the negro had already hung several, and that 
he imagined he would ban q; some more, and that the ne^ro 
and Cunningham also insulted the prisoners shewing them 
the halter, and in like manner with the British officers and 
soldiers, calling them rebels, scoundrels, villains, robbers, 
murderers, and so forth; that from Bedford the deponent 
and the other prisoners were led to Flat Bush, where they 
were confined a week in the house of Mr. LefFerts, and 
kept upon a very short allowance of biscuit and salt pork ; 
that several of the Hessian soldiers while they were con- 
fined at Flat Bush, took pity upon their situation and gave 
them some apples, and at one time some fresh beef, which 
much relieved them ; that from Flat Bush, deponent, with 
between seventy and emhtv officers who were prisoners 
there, were put onboard a small snow lying between Grave- 
send and the Hook, which had been employed in bringing 
cattle from England ; that they were kept on board the 
said snow six weeks, and obliged to lay upon the dung and 
ill tli of the cattle without any bedding or blankets; that 
during their stay in the said snow, observing an old main 
sail which lay on the quarter deck, the prisoners begged 
the captain to permit them to take it into the hold and lie 
upon it, which request was refused with much opprobrious 
language, the captain damning them for a pack of rebels; 


and telling them the hold was good enough for such 
scoundrels; that while on hoard the said snow they were 
much afflicted with lieu and other vermin; that the prison- 
ers applied for soap and fresh water to wash their clothes 
hut were refused; that while they were confined in the 
said snow they were obliged to drink stinking water which 
had been brought with them from England, and when they 
asked for better they were told it was good enough for 
rebels ; that during their stay on board the said snow they 
were allowed only six ounces of pork and a pint of flour, 
or the same proportion in biscuit for each man ; that they 
were obliged to dress all their food with their stinking 
water above mentioned ; and for a considerable time were 
obliged to wait until all the ship's crew had eaten their 
breakfast and dinner before they were allowed to dress 
their victuals ; that during their confinement, having pro- 
cured a little money from their friends, they emploj'ed the 
captain of the transport to go on shore and purchase neces- 
saries for them, which he refused to do without a very 
large commission, charging them fifteen coppers for a loat 
of bread; that from the transport they were brought to 
the city ot'Xew York, and confined in a house near Bride- 
well, where they were kept upon the same short allowance 
as they had been on board the transport, with the addition 
of one ounce of butter per week, and a little rice for each 
man, procured at the request of Govr. Skeene, as deponent 
was informed ; that when the prisoners were first brought 
to the said city they were not allowed any fuel, and after- 
wards only a small quantity of coal, which did net suffice 
them more than three days out of a week; that during 
their continuance in Xew York, the allowance of provi- 
sions was dealt out very negligently, and from the scanti- 
ness and quality, and the bad state of health they laboured 
under, he doth verily believe that most of them would 
have died if they had not been supported by the benevo- 


lencc of seme poor persons and common prostitutes, wLo 

took pity of their miserable situation and alleviated it ; that 
the prisoners were continued in confinement at New York 
until a short time after the taking of Fort "Washington, 
when they were allowed to walk about the town ; that 
deponent understood from several persons that the privates 
who were prisoners in the city of New York, were uni- 
formly treated with great inhumanity ; that they were kept 
in a starving condition, without fuel or the common neces- 
saries of life ; that they were obliged to obey the calls of 
nature in the respective places of their confinement, and 
from disease and want of care and attention, and by the 
mere dint of hard usage died daily in great numbers, so 
that of the prisoners who had been taken on Long Island, 
near one-half have died. And this deponent further saith 
that while he was as aforesaid confined on board the said 
transport, Brigadier-Genl. Woodlmll was also brought on 
board in a shocking mangled condition ; that deponent 
asked the General the particulars of his capture, and was 
told by the said General that he had been taken by a party of 
light horse under the command of Capt. Oliver Delancey ; 
that he was asked by the said captain if he would surren- 
der; that he answered in the affirmative, provided he 
would treat him like a gentleman, which Capt. Delancey 
assured him he would, whereupon the General delivered 
his sword, and that immediately after, the said Oliver De- 
lancey, jnnr., struck him, and others of the said party imi- 
tating his example, did cruelly hack and cut him in the 
manner he then was; that although he was in such a man- 
gled and horrid situation, he had nevertheless been obliged 
to sleep on the bare floor of the said transport, if a lieuten- 
ant of the man-of-war who guarded the transport, had not 
lent him a matrass; that (Jen. "Woodhull was afterwards 
carried to the hospital in the church of New Utrecht where 
lie perished, as deponent was on good authority informed, 


through want of care and necessaries; and further this 
deponent saith not. 

Rob. Troup. 

Sworn the 17th Jany., 1777, \ 
before me, J 

Gouv. Morris. 

[Jou.rnnlProriucial Congress, vol. n, p. 410.] 

[ No. 40. ] 

Hessian Account of (he Movements of the Allied Forces, and the 
Actions in vjhiek they were engaged on Long Island. 

On the 11th of June, 1 when General Howe had gained 
the intelligence of the coming jpf fresh troops from Europe, 
he set sail again with his troops from Halifax, and arrived 
off Sandy Hook on the 20th. He designed to take up a 
position in or near New-York, so that no time might be 
lost, on the arrival of reinforcements, in combining their 
forces with his own. He soon after landed his troops on 
Staten-Islancl, right opposite Long-Island. All his active 
forces at that time, taken together, amounted to about 
9000 men. Here he resolved to await the arrival of the 
fleet, with the troops from Europe, and of General Clinton 
from Carolina, who was just returning from his unfortu- 
nate expedition. 

These forces, in proportion very inadecmate in a country 
so large, and thrown in a state of excitement, were parcelled 
out at exceeding great distances, taking up the vast extent 
of nearly two hundred German miles, being the distance 
from Canada down to South-Carolina. A connection be- 
tween the different corps, or an energetic mutual aid, was 
therefore out of the question. 

1 According to others on the Ctli of June 


Let us now fix our eyes upon the two men whom the 
Ministry had entrusted, in the present war, will] the supremo 
command of the British land and naval forces in America, 
and who were to maintain the supposed rights of England, in 
this part of the globe. The two brothers Howe were known 
as men who owed their high position not merely to favor but 
also to merit; the public therefore thought such a selection 
perfectly justified. In former battles they had on several 
occasions given proofs of their valor and sagacity. Vis- 
count Richard, the admiral and elder brother, was an 
enterprising, energetic and sober character, who had 
already, as an officer in the navy, reaped honors and 
valuable knowledge. In his demeanor he showed, beside 
the inherent pride of the Briton, a cold reserve to those 
who were not of his own rank, and a profound contempt 
for those, who, in his opinion, had audaciously risen 
against their mother country and their king, and whom he 
looked upon as nothing more than miserable rebels deserv- 
ing punishment. 

The younger brother, William the chevalier, had ac- 
quired similar distinctions on land to those the elder 
brother had gained at sea. He was considered one of the 
most experienced and best qualified generals of the British 
army, and had already fought with glory in the previous 
war in America. In respect to his disposition, he was 
very different from his brother: for although lie main- 
tained an aristocratic deportment, he was more ait'able 
and complaisant, but had neither the other's energy 
nor his activity, and sometimes betrayed, even in the 
most important affairs, a degree of carelessness and slug- 
gishness, which was unpardonable. The elder brother 
was sober and abstemious, but William was much given 
to sensual pleasures and enjoyments of every kind, fre- 
quently forgetting in their pursuit the high duties of a 
general. He kept at all times a good kitchen, and usually 


also a mistress, and liked to sec others enjoy themselves 
in the same way. He was easily influenced by those in 
whom he often too rashly placed confidence, and readily 
suffered himself to be guided or persuaded by persons 
whose capacities he far overrated. Possessed of many 
good qualities, his weaknesses were not condemned with 
such severity as they would be at the present time; indeed 
many looked upon them as evidences of knightly character. 
Thus it happened that Sir William was loved and respected 
by the officers and men of the tw r o nationalities more than 
any other general. 1 The British government probably 
thought, that in the case of two brothers who had hitherto 
lived in harmony together, their accordance might like- 
wise bring about harmonious activity in their common 
operations. It w r as this view which confirmed them in the 
opinion that they had made a good selection. But let us 
look at the result. 

The British commander-in-chief was already revolving 
in his mind the scheme of crossing over to Long-Island 
and dislodging the enemy who had fortified themselves 
there in order to cover Xew York, a place of much im- 
portance. The reinforcements having arrived, he now 
gave the necessary orders for that purpose ; the Hessians 
were selected to cooperate. 

In the first place the brigade 2 Von Stirn was ordered to 
advance to the Jersey sound, an arm of the sea which 
separates the island from the mainland and there to relieve 
the 3oth English regiment and part of the 5th. On the 
morning of the 10th August, the brigade set out on the 
march, the tents and bai^a^e being; placed on wagons. 
The strange vehicles — little chariots painted red with two 
ponies to each — appeared new and odd-looking to our good 

1 A IL>s<hm officer says in speaking of tills man, "General Howe is more 
than a whole army." 
'Regiments Von Kuypliausen, Von Lossberg and Kail. 


Hessians. When the brigade marched into their destined 
place, the English officers were so civil as to invite the 
Germans to dinner. As the night set in the relieving 

took place. The outposts were set very near to those of 
the enemy, who occupied the opposite shore of the narrow 
sound. The" whole brigade was placed along the shore, 
divided off in little detachments. The regiment of body- 
guards took its position at Amboy ferry. The camp was 
pitched in two lines, but a few days after it had to be re- 
moved a little further back, as the Americans, with their 
long rifles kept shooting at the Hessians from the opposite 
shore; and as in this manner the outposts were continually 
molested, Grcnke, a lieutenant of the artillery, was ordered 
to send a few cannon balls into Amboy, whereupon the 
Americans kept more quiet. The breadth of the strait 
might be somewhat more than three hundred paces. 
The Americans, who saw for the first time the German 
new-comers they so much feared, assembled in clusters on 
the shores, more to satisfy their curiosity, than because 
they expected a demonstration from this side. A Hessian 
officer says in his journal; "They stretched forth their 
necks excessively. Some of them were dressed in regi- 
mentals, but most of them in the accoutrements of an 
assembled mob." 

The landing of the newly arrived reinforcements had 
spread not a little fear among the Americans. They stood 
in awe principally of the Germans, whom they imagined 
to be half devils. A great part of the inhabitants of the 
country places had therefore fled in the utmost haste to the 
greater cities, principally Xew York, leaving behind their 
goods and chattels, and sometimes their money and pre- 
cious stones. This fear was .-till further increased when the 
troops possessed themselves by force of the quarters assigned 
to them, which were at first refused by the refractory 


The greatest moderation in their dealings with the in- 
habitants, even the disaffected ones, had been enjoined upon 

the soldiers, and most rigidly enforeed by their superiors, 
for they still indulged the hope of an amicable settlement 
of the respective differences, and for that reason they desired 
to see his Majesty's "" subjects''' treated with forbearance, 
as for as possible, and everything avoided that might pro- 
voke them more. This was the earnest wish of the British 
as well as the German generals; however, this moderation 
was not appreciated, and they treated the quartered soldiers 
in the rudest maimer, nay, they had a good mind to thrust 
them out of doors without ceremony. This of course 
gave rise to all sorts of provocations and excesses, since 
both officers and men considered themselves as warriors in 
the country of an enemy. 

When the first fear and excitement among the popula-. 
tion had subsided, and people had become aware that, 
after all, they had not to deal with robbers and anthropo- 
phagi, the fugitives gradually returned to their homes, 
and were not a little surprised to find not only their dwell- 
ings as they left them, but also the furniture, their effects, 
aye, even their money ami trinkets. The fact was that the 
Germans, used to discipline, did not ask for more than they 
were entitled to. Their mutual relations now took a more 
friendly form, audit was not a rare case that a thorough 
republican would treat the quartered soldier like one 
entitled to his hospitality, and carefully nurse the side or 
wounded one. Those parts of the country that had just 
been occupied, enjoying a mild climate, and offering to the 
view their rich and alternating natural beauties, as well as 
their great fertility, bore a paradisaical appearance; the 
most delicious fruits, the most odoriferous and beautiful 
flowers, grew here almost wild; everywhere neat and 
smiling villas and villages; newly planned cities, growing 
visibly In size; prosperity, nay, luxury, among the inhabit- 


ants, wko with trilling exertion made an easy and abund- 
ant living. Almost every owner of a little estate kept 
Lis gig and bis black servants. There was scarcely a 
trace of war, especially on Staten Island and Long Island, 
in spite of their being, since its beginning, the scene of 
action, now seized by the European, now by the. American 
party. The Germans were not a little surprised to sue 
people living in such affluence and comfort revolt against 
a government under whose admistration they seemed to 
be doing so well; and how trifling were the taxes and 
duties in this country, when compared with those of the 
German States. A country squire in Germany hardly 
lived so comfortably in his castle as the most ordinary 
farmer on his acres hereabouts. The commander-in-chief 
who could now dispose of 35,000 choice troops, 1 went to 
work with vi°:or in order to dislodge the Americans from 
Long Island, where they had strongly intrenched them- 
selves, chiefly near Brooklyn. This long-drawn island, 
opposite Staten Island, is separated from the latter by an 
inlet about an English mile wide, called the Harrow,-:, in 
which the British ships had cast anchor. At the western 
end of the island, opposite New York, lay the village of 
Brooklyn, and before this place rose at that time some 
wooded heights, which had been strongly garrisoned and 
fortified by the Americans. These places were separated 
by a strait, which in this place is not quite an English 
mile wide. Before the Brooklyn entrenchments a ridge of 
hills extends across the narrower side of the island — the 
heights of Guiana. 2 About the distance 3 of two miles and 

'The united forces England had mi America in the year 1776, are stated 
to have been 55,000 men, land forces, and 28,000 marines. The number of 
German troops included in the above, is estimated at 16,008 men. S. 
SpreneVs History of the American Jl< volution, p, 141. 


3 Here aud in what follows, English miles are meant. 


a half from those heights near Brooklyn, beginning at 
the Narrows, three highways run, the left one brings you 

to Bedford, and from there further on, through a narrow 
passage, to the village of Jamaica. The central one runs 
across the heights to the village of Flatbush, and the third, 
to the right, along Gowanus bay, consequently south of 
Brooklyn to the Gravesend bay. On this side they knew 
that the fortifications were strong and lined with Washing- 
ton's choice troops, under Xathauael Greene, one of the best 
American generals. They were therefore aware that they 
would meet with a warm reception. 

Not later than the 19th the British troops were em- 
barked ; on the 21st the Hessian grenadiers and sharp- 
shooters, and on the 22d the first division under Clinton 
went ashore on Long Island near Utrecht. The reserve 
coming later, was commanded by Lord Oornwallis. 1 The 
Hessian sharpshooters and grenadiers formed henceforth 
one brigade under the brave Colonel Van Donop, which 
was for the most part used as an advanced guard. The 
Americans had left the shore without firing one shot, but 
not without first setting some cornhouses on lire. Lord 
Cornwallis was immediately detached to Flatbush, at the 
head of the reserve, together with the van under Donop, 
and six pieces of ordnance, with the direction however 
not to attack the place if he found it occupied. Cornwallis 
took his position near Gravesend and pushed Donop up to 
Flatbush. When the latter arrived there towards evening. 
the garrison, consisting of three hundred riflemen, immedi- 
ately withdrew, a few cannon balls being sent after them. 
On the morning of the 23d the right wing of the advanced 
guard was here attacked, but when a cannon was mounted 
the Americans retired. In the afternoon they essayed 

"To tliis corps bvlonrr* tlie following sections of English. The first 
brigade, one brigade of light infantry, the reserve undei Oornwallis, and 

t lie 71st lvinmcnt. 


another attack on the left wing, drove it back into the 
village, and fired some houses. At last they were driven 
back by the artillery. On the 25th a stronger body of 
American troops, with some cannon, pressed forward ; 
the village was bombarded with round shot and grape 
shot, but the artillery on this side again repelled the 
enemy. The Hessian sharpshooters, who till now had 
been stationed as pickets, were allowed to rest a little on 
the night of the 24th, but at 2 o'clock in the morning of 
of the 25th they were again alarmed by an attack and 
hastened again to their post; the Americans were soon 
rebuffed, and when on the 26th they advanced again in 
greater force, Cornwallis would have it that Donop should 
retreat, but he begged to be allowed to stay, and intrenched 

In the meantime General Yon Ilcister had also crossed 
over with some of his Hessians from Staten to Long Island, 
on the 25th of August. Lossbere;'s brigade, consisting of 
the regiment of body guards, the regiments Prince Charles 
Von Ditfurth and Yon Trumbach, together with the 14th 
English regiment : the convalescents were left behind on 
the former island. 1 The troops following after forthwith 
marched on the central road to Flatbush, whilst Corn- 
wallis, who had hitherto been stationed here, now took 
his position on the right wing of the army. The allies at 
present occupied the field from the Narrows to Utrecht 
and Gravesend. The Americans, who stood in the en- 
trenchments near Brooklyn and on the heights already 
mentioned, lying in front, had stationed on the latter 
a greater part of their active forces. The right flank 

1 We find here the brigades differently composed from what they were 
when they left Hessia. On the 23th General Von Stirn received the brigade 
Mirbach regiments Hereditary Prince (Erbprinz), Von Donop, and ^ on 
Mirbach. lleister crossed over to Long Island with the two brigades, ^^ on 
Stirn and Von Mirbach. 


of the lines from Brooklyn extended to the mouth of 
the Hudson. In front of said estuary a small bay called 
Gowanus Bay stretched far inland through marshy ground, 
so that there was but a small space left between the bay 
and the heights. The left flank abutted on the Walla- 
bout Bay. 

On the 26th the troops had a day of rest. Ileister how- 
ever detached Colonel Yon Heringen of the regiment Yon 
Lossberg with 300 men and a few pieces of ordnance to 
the left flank as an advanced post. When he had here 
relieved the Highlanders (71st regiment), he was attacked 
by riflemen and lost some of his men, hut lie drove them 
back with his cannon pretty soon. 

In the evening of the same day, about nine o'clock, 
Clinton with his corps had set out in perfect secrecy and 
kept marching slowly to the right, on the road to Bedford, 
in order to possess himself of the important pass there, 
which he had reason to believe was occupied by the 
enemy. The next day, very early in the morning, he 
advanced precipitately and learned to his great surprise, 
when he was still 1J- miles distant from it, of some recon- 
noitering patrol sent in advance, (according to others, of 
an American patrol taken prisoner,) that the important 
defile was not occupied at all. Clinton immediately 
pushed forward a battalion of light infantry to seize the 
same while he made a stand awaiting the break of day. 
Behind him was the British chief strength, under Lord 
Percy, consisting of the 2d, 3d, and 5th brigades, the 49th 
regiment and 1G pieces of ordnance, among the rest the 
three twelve pounders. With these troops was also the 
Generahin-chief Howe. With the first dawning of the 
morning all his troops resumed their march, in order to 
complete the turning of the left wing. In the morning of 
the 27th, at 8 o'clock, Clinton's van-guard had reached 
Bedford, so he now stood in the rear of the enemy's left 


flank. Some troops of militia-men who had occupied the 
heights there, had retreated in the greatest haste lest they 
might he cut off. They were, however, pursued and dis- 
persed, while the pursuers grew so heated, that in spite of 
a fierce firing of cannons and muskets they were groins 
to storm the American entrenchments immediately, and 
would only be detained from it by the greatest exertion. 
The withdrawn troops were gathered again in a defile 
which ran along a certain distance in front of the Ameri- 
can camp. 

While these events took place on the right wing, Gene- 
ral Von Ilcister, who with his Hessians formed the centre, 
had advanced with break of day on the road to Flatbush, 
where he got into an engagement with the enemy by 
opening a cannonade, to which the latter answered with 
animation. Heister's task was to enter only into a sham 
engagement, and to draw the attention of the Americans 
so long on himself, that the turning of their left wing 
should be completely accomplished. The tents had been 
left standing, but the baggage was sent back. The Ame- 
ricans were posted here on the heights of Guiana, which 
were very advantageously located, covered with dense 
forests, and well intrenched. Donop, who had maintained 
his ground, requested to be allowed to make the first 
attack with his sharpshooters and grenadiers, which was 
accorded to him. As soon as General Yon Heister heard 
the report of cannon on his right, and knew from the 
direction, that the effort to turn the enemy's wing had 
succeeded, he also briskly proceeded to make a tierce 
charge. The grenadiers stood in their divisions before 
the lines, and in front of them as flankers the company oi 
sharpshooters under Captain Wreden. The brigade Yon 
Mirbach had chiefly to cover the left flank. The regi- 
ments advanced bravely and in the best order up the 
heights, with drums and fifes and living colors, carrying 


the cannon along with ilicm "through the wilderness with 
great exertion. "When the troops, exposed to a fierce can- 
nonading of the eimmy, which however hurt them hut 
little, had arrived on the heights, they were formed in line, 
the same as on the drilling ground. The Americans were 
vigorously driven hack hy the flankers sent in advance; 
many o^ them were killed or made prisoners, while the 
regiments followed the former in a solid body with their 
arms shouldered. Colonel Yon llceringen writes to Colo- 
nel Yon Lossberg : " The enemy was covered by almost 
impenetrable brushwood, liues, abatis, and redoubts. The 
greater part of the riflemen were pierced with the bayonet 
to the trees. These dreadful people ought rather to be 
pitied than feared; they always require a quarter of an 
hour's time to load a rifle, and in the meantime they feel 
the effects of our balls and bayonets." * 

The sharpshooters of the left wing, stimulated by their 
eager desire for the combat, advanced with such vehe- 
mence that their captain was not able to keep them back; 
they pushed on even into the fortified works of the Ame- 
rican camp, and saw the latter lying to the left, and a 
redoubt on the right. Taken unawares by the sudden 
appearance of the Hessians, the Americans flocked together 
in troops of fifty and sixty men, but the former left them 
no time to hill in, they were partly killed, dispersed and 
made prisoners. This took place in sight of the garrison 
in the enemy's lines. 

In the beginning the Hessians had the American Colo- 
nel Hand against them, who was here posted with his 
riflemen, but when he was pressed harder and harder, 
General Sullivan himself hastened to his assistance; he 

1 Prussian Military Weetdfr 1833, Nos. 863, SG-i, p. 4854 This account 
is given by Colonel V. Hoeringen, but not of the regiment Von Schenck, as 
• hero said by mistake, but of tin- regiment Von Lossberg, to the commander 
of which, who had remained behind on Staten Island, he relates it. 


too bad to give way and issued the order to tetreat, bul 

too late, for when lleister had driven him into the plain, 
the British dragoons came already in swarms from the 
right wing, followed by Clinton's light infant ry. The 
Americans cut off. and between two fires, were soon thrown 
into sad confusion, and a great carnage, ensued, as they 
fought on both sides with the greatest animosity. The 
Americans knew no better than that the Hessians crave no 
quarter. Every one of the former, therefore, endeavor'"! 
to sell his life as dear as possible, or to save it by flight, 
while the Hessians grew more and more exasperated by 
this supposed obstinate and useless resistance. On one 
side, therefore, fierce combat, and on the other a wild and 
orderless flight. Part of them sought their safety in the 
woods, but many others got into the swamps, and perished 
there most miserably, or were made prisoners: only a 
small number of them succeeded in cutting their way 
through, and arriving at the lines. The Hessians had 
fired off their muskets but once when they charged on 
their opponents with their bayonets. The Mirbach bri- 
gade which was posted more to the left, now likewise 
joined in the battle. The regiment Rail, that stood in the 
centre, had to march with the order "to the right about" 
through a narrow passage. As there was an open view, 
they saw a troop of Americans, about fifty men, hastening 
toward them, with flying colors. Rail commanded to give 
fire. The Americans who had lost their way or who had 
been cut off from their countrymen, surrendered and 
begged for quarter, whereupon they laid down their arms. 
An under officer leaping forward took away the colors. 
He was just going to present them to Colonel Rail, when 
General Von Mirbach arrived, and was about snatch:'. 
the colors from the under officer's hand, when Rail said in 
a tone of vexation, " By no means, General, my grenadier 
have taken these colors, they shalLkeep them, and I shu 


not permit any one to take tlicm away."' A short alterca- 
tion now took place between them, and they separated in 
angry mood, but the colors remained for the present with 
Kail's regiment. The occurrence was noticed at headquar- 
ters. Soou after Colonel Ball was appointed inspecting 
commander of the brigade. 

Let us now turn oar attention to the incidents oecurrino; 
on the left wing, although they are not of so much con- 
sideration as were those on the right and in the centre. 
The British General Grant had received the instruction 
that he was not to enter into any serious engagement, but 
merely to occupy the attention of the American right wing- 
in every possible way. For this purpose the}' added to his 
division the 4th and Cth English Brigades, the 42d regi- 
ment, two companies of the jSqw York provincials, and 
ten pieces of ordnance. At midnight he attacked, the 
enemy's advanced guards, and continued his efforts next 
morning, but when lie heard to his right the increased 
thunder of artillery, he too proceeded to a serious charge. 
The American General Lord Stirling, who commanded 
here, soon got between two fires, for Cornwallis with the 
reserve was approaching his left at the moment Stirling 
was just going to retreat to the Growanus Bay by crossing 
a brook, but it was now too late. Once more he made 
a most desperate resistance, but he was soon forced to 
surrender as his troops were surrounded on qxcvy side. 
Bearing a burning hatred to the Britons he would not 
give himself up prisoner to them, he went therefore in 
epiest of General A r on lleister and gave up Ids sword to 
him. In order to divide the attention of the Americans 
still more, Howe had requested Admiral Parker to approach 
with six ships of the line, the American batteries, erected 
along the shore and lire upon them; but the wind being 
adverse and the tide ebbing, only one ship succeeded in 
getting within gun-shoi reach. Ilowe himself, in his offi- 


cial return, sets clown the loss of the Americans in killed, 
wounded and prisoners at about 3,500 men. Among the 
last were three generals, Stirling, Sullivan, and Udell, 1 
three colonels, four lieutenant-colonels, three majors, eigh- 
teen captains, forty-three lieutenants, one aid-de-camp, 
eleven ensigns, and 1011 privates, provincial troops and 
militia, 2 15 cannons, and one howitzer; some banners, 
ammunition, wagons, and intrenching tools, and many 
other accoutrements were made booty of. The Hessians 
alone took one ensign and five pieces of ordnance, and 
made five hundred and twenty prisoners; among the rest, 
General Sullivan and thirty-five officers. The general was 
found hidden in a field of Indian corn, about a hundred 
steps distant from Col. Yon Heeringen's post, by 3 fusiliers 
of Yon Kuyphausen's regiment. Heeringen continues the 
subject by saying, " John Sullivan is a lawyer, but before 
has been a footman ; he is however a man of genius, whom 
the rebels will very much regret. Among the prisoners 
are many w T ho call themselves colonels, lieutenant-colonels 
and majors; likewise other officers who are nothing more 
than artizans, tailors, coolers, wigmakers, barbers, etc. 
Some received a good thrashing by our men who do not 
recognize such people as officers. Sullivan was brought 
to me ; I had him searched and the original orders of 
General Washington were found upon him; from which 
if appears he had the best of his troops placed under his 
command, that everything depended upon their maintain- 

'ln all historical works he passes under the above name, but is called by 
Marshall in liis work {Life of Gcarg-e )Va*/tinyton, vol. n, chapter 7), 
Woodhull. He adds in a note, " Lord Howe mentioned this last officer by 
mistake under the name of de Udell.," 

2 Donop's aid-de-camp specifies the prisoners in the following manner : 
three generals, seven officers of the stair, fifty-six sub-officers, six surgeons, 
one thousand and six privates. He sets down the number of cannon taken 
at fourteen, of which, the Hessians took seven. In the fortifications ten iron 
cannons were found, and five were captured in the field. 


ing their ground in the forest, and that his forces amounted 
to 8000 men. The English have 150 killed and wounded ; 
they owe this rather to their irregular attacking than to 
the enemy's bravery. The forest was a scene of horror; 
there were certainly 2000 killed and wounded lying about. 
Colonel Johnson of the rebels is dead. A grenadier made 
liim prisoner and generously spared his life; he told him 
he should only go to his battalion that was following, for 
the grenadier was a flanker. The colonel however endea- 
vored maliciously to murder him from behind, drew secretly 
a pistol but hit only his arm, for which the latter requited 
him by thrusting his bayonet three times into his body. 
Among the officers taken prisoners I did not meet with 
one who had been in foreign service. The} r are all rebels 
and resident citizens of the country. Our taylor general 
would play here a conspicuous part. My Lord Stirling 
himself is only an ' Echoppe de famillef and in England they 
will not allow him the title. 1 He is as much like my Lord 
Granby as one egg is like another. General Putnam is a 
butcher by trade, I portray him in my mind like butcher 
Fisher in Rinteler. The rebels desert frequently and it is 
nothing new to see colonels, lieutenant-colonels and majors 
arrive with whole troops of men. The captured colours 
of red damask, with the motto i Liberty,' now took their 
stand with sixty men in front, at the head of regiment 
Kail; they had all shouldered their arms upside down, 

1 The letter of a Hessian officer says, with respect to the three American 
generals taken prisoners. " Sullivan -was a lawyer, and promoted in eight 
months to the rank of major-general, this was achieved by a brother of his 
being a leading member of Congress. He is a native of Ireland. Stirling 
is the son of a fisherman. His father was a Scotchman and grew so rich 
that he sought to bear the title of Lord Alexander Stirling. In England to 
be sure this title was never accorded to him, but in America they honored 
the son with it in deference to his riches, ami for ihe same reas-'ii lie was 
raised to the rank of Brigadier-General although he had never served in 
his life. Udell is a foreigner whose real descent is unknown." 


carried their hats under their arms, fell upon their knees, 
and entreated us most earnestly to spare their lives. Xo 
regiment is properly dressed or armed; every one has a 
common musket like those which citizens use in Ilessia, 
when they march out of town on Whitsuntide, with the 
exception of regiment Stirling, that was dressed in hi ue and 
red, and consisted of three battalions, for the most part, 
Germans enlisted in Pennsylvania. They were tall fine 
fellows, and had most beautiful English muskets with 
bayonets. This regiment met with an English troop, but 
being hidden by bushes the latter mistook them for Hes- 
sians and did not fire ; this mistake they paid with the loss 
of Colonel Grant, some other officers and 80 privates. It 
was a general discharge. The English restored order in 
their ranks, attacked them with the bayonet, threw down 
everything in their way, and those they did not kill they 
took prisoners; in a word the whole regiment is cut up. 
The artillery of the rebels is wretched, mostly composed 
of iron, ill served, and is mounted on ship carriages." 

The loss of the Hessians consisted in two men killed, a 
grenadier and a sharpshooter; three officers, Yon Ponop 
captain of the sharpshooters, Major Pauly of the artillery; 
and one lieutenant, together with twenty-three privates, 
mostly sharpshooters and grenadiers, wounded. The 
English lost in killed, five officers, fifty-six subaltern offi- 
cers and soldiers; and there were twelve officers, two hun- 
dred and forty-five subaltern officers and privates wounded. 
The Americans taken prisoners, officers as well as soldiers, 
were put on board the ships. Among the other extraordi- 
nary tilings that showed themselves in this first battle in 
the new world, was the fact that almost all the German 
staff officers were without horses, as they did not take 
them along with them when leaving the old country, and 
they could not hunt out any until now. Donop's aid dc 
camp, says on this subject in his diary, "Most of the higher 


and subaltern officers went on fool, bearing their cloaks 
rolled up on the shoulder, with a large gourd bottle filled 
with water and rum, hanging down their side. This wag 
also my fate, although I was adjutant, and whenever rny 
brigadier Colonel Donop wanted me to carry an order 
speedily, he dismounted and gave me his old but solid stal- 
lion, which he had taken with him from Hessia." 

Another singularity was that many officers, on this 
march or in battle, had their rifles hanging about them; 
Donop, too, carried one in default of which he would pro- 
bably have been lost. During the skirmishing on the 
25th, a rifleman being at a short distance aimed at him, 
but he (Donop) got the start of him and shot him through 
the head. The officers who went in advance with the 
flankers carried for the most part rifles with bayonets. 
The private soldiers also had to be indulged in many 
things which formerly were strictly interdicted. J icing in 
their first fights they were permitted to wear their sabres 
across the chest in order to be able to during the great 
heat of the day to unbutton their jerkins, which were 
made of thick cloth. The strength of the troops on this 
side who took part in the action may have been about 
15,000 men; as many more had remained on Staten Island 
and in the vessels. From the American side the strength 
of the allies is alleged to have been 25,000 men, which is 
evidently exaggerated, while they quote the number of 
their troops, that took a share in the battle, at 5,000 men, 
which on the other hand is too little. 1 They had stationed 
at least 8,000 men on the fore part of the heights, as ap- 
peared also from the documents found on Sullivan's person, 
and about 5,000 men were in the lines near Brooklyn. 2 

1 Washington Irving's Life of George Washington, vol. ir, chap. 73. 

2 Wiebke, in his ^.vork The First Year* of (lie Xorfh American W<ir for 
LP>> rty, p. 182, assumes that 9,000 Americana had been employed to occupy 
the heights, and 5,000 to cover the liiK-s. 


"Washington, as mentioned above, had at first given to 
General Greene the supreme command over these tn 
but as the latter was suddenly taken ill, Sullivan received 

the command. Tie had but just joined the army with hi* 
corps, and was little acquainted with the dispositions 
already made; that was the reason why that important 
pass near Bedford had not been occupied, and why in the 
occupation of that part of the heights some deficiences were 
discovered. For the first time the European tactics could 
here be compared with the American. In proportion to 
its strength the American line was too much extended, 
and it lacked also timely support, while on the other 
hand, they had thrown out in front of it numerous swarms 
of skirmishers, whose well aimed fire was very galling, 
but that lasted, not long. The Hessians and Britons, in 
their accustomed way, deployed their forces in greater 
masses, and soon drove the thin battle lines back with the 
bayonet without losing their time with firing. 

"When the left wing of the insurgents had been thrown 
back 'from the heights, it got into the marshy ground. 
Being the most distant from the line it could only retreat 
in a slanting direction, on the small strip of land between 
the Gowanus Bay and the heights; but part of the troops 
on the right wing, under'Cliuton, forestalled the Americans, 
and here they got into the most desperate position. In 
this battle the first Hessian blood was shed on American 
ground. Here they discovered that they had to deal with 
a peculiar opponent, and that sooner or later they would 
have to conform to a manner of fighting deviating in 
many respects from that which had hitherto been cus- 
tomary in Europe. The well-drilled and war-proof Ger- 
man soldier here found himself in circumstances for the 
most part new and strange. ^Ve cannot help making 
here a few more reflections on this first main battle of the 
allied troops and the Americans as enemies, regarding the 



clamour which the latter raised against fche desperate 
fighting manner of the Hessians, as showed on this occa- 
sion. The fear of them increased to terror; people spoke 
with horror of their bloody deeds, and were above all out- 
raged that the Germans in some instances had not given 
quarter, and had even' without grace and mercy stabbed to 
the ground unarmed men, and such as begged them to 
spare their lives. It was reported that more than two 
thousand men had in this manner fallen victims to a blind 
passion of revenge. That the Hessians were very much 
exasperated and furious is not to be denied, but that was 
- owing chiefly to the circumstance that some troops of the 
enemy who had surrendered, and had begged for quarter, 
fired once more on the Hessians when the}' approached 
them unsuspectingly. This was contrary to a) I rules of war. 
The course pursued by the Hessians was urged upon them 
by the Britons. 1 Colonel Yon Heeringen says on this sub- 
ject in his letter to Colonel Yon Lossburg, mentioned before : 
" The English soldiers did not give much quarter and con- 
stantly urged our men to follow their example." We have 
learned further from said letter how maliciously Col. 
Johnson dealt with the Hessian grenadier, and of the 
Pennsylvania regiment firing another volley after it was 
already cut off. All this was sufficient to heighten the pas- 
sions of troops inured to war but not accustomed to such 
practices. From another incident already mentioned we 
notice that the Hessians did not pounce upon all in a 
blood-thirsty mood, for when Rail's regiment fell in with 
a troop of enemies and took them, prisoners it was done 
without committing any act of violence. The slight with 
which they treated the Americans before, on account of 
their little effectiveness in battle, was still increased after 

1 History of the War in end out of Europe, part 1, p. 110. 


the first collision. Many of them did not accept the 
quarter given them by the Hessians. " They were " sa\\s 
Lieutenant Kufler in his diary, " so much afraid, that they 
suffered themselves rather to be shot than to accept quarter, 
because their generals and other ofliccrs had made them 
believe that 'if thev did thev would be huner. 

The victors made the vanquished feel their humiliation, 
by putting the American prisoners to the cannons, and 
compelling them to draw the same on the bad roads up 
to the ships. However, this seems to have been done not 
so much to heap indignities upon them, as from necessity, 
for there was a want of horses, and the troops on this side, 
already extremely fatigued, would otherwise have been 
obliged to do it themselves. Howe treated the generals 
made prisoners with great courtesy: Stirling as well as 
Sullivan dined with him every day. 

After a dreary night the Americans expected an imme- 
diate assault on their lines which they did not think they 
could possibly maintain, after their confidence had been 
extinguished by the defeat they had undergone. Howe 
actually began, with the dawn of the 28th of August, a 
cannonade on the enemy's works, while at the same time 
he gave directions- to fortify his camp; he was however 
prevented from carrying out the latter plan by a heavy 
shower of rain, and in the course of the day, only some 
skirmishing on the outposts took place. Not before even- 
ing, when the rain had somewhat abated, were the pioneer 
works resumed, and continued on the day following. 1 [owe 
had neglected to order men-of-war into the East River at 
the right time, by which means he would have cut off the 
retreat of the Americans to Xcw York. When at last, oi 
the morning of the 29th, while a dense fog was covering 
land and sea, he made preparations for it, his opponent- 
became aware of his intention, and deferred no longer 
slipping out of that dangerous trap. In a council oi war 


convoked by Washington, the retreat was fixed on the fol- 
lowing night, and so successfully executed thai the troops 
on this side did not at all become aware of it. 1 The 
following morning, the 30th, the latter perceived to their 
no small surprise that the lines had been abandoned, and 
the Hessian regiments Von Donop and Von Lo>sberg 
occupied them immediately without waiting for further 
orders. Col. Von Heeringen, who had seized a height 
near the Hudson in the night of the 2 { Jth, was the first who 
became aware of it and notified it directly to Howe through 
Lieutenant Zoll. On receiving this intelligence Howe 
himself with the admiral went to see the Colonel, to con- 
vince himself of the correctness of the information, and in 
his presence advise with his brother as to what was now to 
be done. Both agreed to occupy immediately the other 
side of York Island with men-of-war. The heights seized 
b} 7 the Colonel were so close to INew York that you could 
see people walking in the streets and even distinguish the 
color of their clothes. They found still remaining in the 
works eleven pieces of ordnance, much ammunition and a 
good deal of provisions. The Hessians alone drove away 
above 100 horses and near 300 cows. 

Holland, Major of the English engineers, praises the 
Americans for having made their works good and lasting 
according to all the rules of strategy, and says that they 
might have been longer maintained if they had been pro- 
perly- garrisoned; however, nothing had been properly 
finished* According to the statement of an officer, the 
Hessians found yet another order in the American camp 
which said: "Since with such enemies as the Hessians 
every resistance offered is useless, they were to make good 
their retreat as well as they could.''" 

1 Washington himself managed the retreat ; he was the last who left the 


At the English head-qu»FtQrs they wore so irritated on 
account of the escape, that they now regretted to have 

interfered with the vehemence of the troops when thev 
were going to rush upon the lines on the 27th. 1 Heister 
with his two Hessian brigades had in the mean time occu- 
pied the heights near Brooklyn abandoned by the enemy, 
while Donop with his grenadiers and sharp-shooters had 
joined the right wing of the army at Bushwick. A British 
brigade remained at Bedford. General Howe had trans- 
ferred his head-quarters to Newtown which received a gar- 
rison, as also did Bushwick, Hellgate, and Flushing. In 
the same way the two islands Montresor ana 1 Buchanan 
received again their garrisou, and near HorensHook some 
batteries were erected, which could sweep the passage at 
Hellgate. His chief object was to seize New York as soon 
as possible, since it promised not only excellent winter 
quarters, but might serve also as the best point of support 
for further operations. The Americans making the same 
reflections were resolved to do their utmost to prevent so 
important a place from falling into their enemy's hands, 
and began at once to strengthen their fortifications. But 
not all were of the same opinion; part of them even moved 
to set fire to the fine town, and to retire. Discord rose at 
last to such a height that serious scuffles ensued between 
the different parties, whereupon those of Xew England 
and Pennsylvania left scornfully the town. 

As the troops stationed opposite could perfectly survey 
the banks on the other side, they now and then perceived 
also Washington when with numerous attendants he in- 
spected the line of sentries. One day just when he ap- 

1 According to reliable information General Von Heister had ascertain* <! 
from the troops that followed the retreating Americans up to their linos, 
that the left part of the enemy's camp fortifications was still a few huiuln -1 
paces open. . When after the battle the flanking eorps apain gained tin- 
centre, Heister communicated the discovery to General Howe and propose*! 


peared opposite one of the batteries, Captain Krug of 
the Hessian artillery ordered some shots to be fired at 
the troop on horse-back. At the third discharge Wash- 
ington and his attendants made off. In the night of the 
first of September, some armed boats approached the 
outposts on Staten Island, and a discharge of musketry 
ensued and the Americans retired soon after. The same 
manoeuvre was repeated in the night following. We per- 
ceived also from here that the enemy had strengthened 
himself by reinforcements. According to the statement 
of some of the inhabitants the enemy had actually con- 
templated a serious attack upon the camp. They were 
therefore very much on their guard on- this side and every 
quarter of an hour the sentries had orders to call out to 
one another "All's well." 

As General Howe had not succeeded in cutting oil' the 
enemy on Long Island, or rather had been neglectful in it, 
he was going to try it now on TsTew York Island. AVhile 
his ships were lying in front he made his troops throw up 
redoubts, and erect batteries behind the town. During the 
few days a more or less fierce cannonade had taken place. 
Howe had made all the preparations for a descent in 
secrecy. In the evening of the 13th September, five of the 
largest English men-of-war, of from 20 to 44 guns, sailed 
into the East River where they forced their way through 
the midst of the enemy's vessels, sunk in that strait and 
passed onward in spite of the awful tiring from the bat- 
teries and forts. Thus they arrived at Bushwick opposite 
the place fixed on for the descent of the troops that were 
on board the ships. The flat-bottomed vessels and row- 
galleys, under command of Hotharn, likewise, reached 

to him to avail themselves of the confusion of the enemy, and the ongei 
desire of tin- troops for the combat, and storm the cam]) on the weak point, 
but Howe had all kinds of scruples and thus neglected the favorable oppor 
tunity of following up his victory on the snot. 


their place of destination in the darkness of night, and 

unnoticed by the enemy, Besides these, six more trans- 
port ships bearing likewise troops chosen for the descent, 
followed amidst the most galling lire. In order to 
divide the attention of the adversary, three frigates and a 
schooner were sent up the Hudson as far as Bloomingdale, 
in the morning of the 15th, which were, likewise very 
much exposed to the heavy fire from the batteries erected 
on both sides of the river. Protected by the ships the 
troops of the first division, consisting of the English light 
infantry, the Highlanders, the reserve and the Hessian 
grenadiers, and sharpshooters, commanded by Colonel 
Doiiop, and who, with the troops under Cornwallis formed 
the van, 1 were embarked on the Xewtown Creek in flat 
bottomed boats. Tents and baggage were left behind. 
It was a grand and splendid sight, when, accompanied by 
the raging thunder of the gums of five men-of-war and the 
British and American land batteries, the army was carried 
over in long and gaily colored row r s of boats filled with 
troops moving in as good order, as when manomvering on 
the land. Eye-witnesses can scarcely find words to give a 
sufficiently impressive' description of this spectacle. Sir 
Henry Clinton was the chief commander of these troops, 
with the Generals Cornwallis, Yaughan and Leslie as 
assistants. After the enemy had been swept off of the 
banks of the river on the other side, by the fire of the ships, 
and had even been forced to quit the lines lie had held 
there, the troops were disembarked at noon in the Kipsbay, 
about 3 miles above Xew York. 

[Die Dcutschen ttulfstruppcn in Nordamerikanisclien Befrciungskricgc, 

1770 bis 1783. Von Mux von EeMng, vol. I, fol. 28,.seq.] 

'The troops headed by Cornwallis consisted of the English light infantry, 
the 33d British and tin- 42d Scotch regiment; these in conjunction with 
Doriop's brigade formed henceforth almost always the van. 


[ No. 41. ] 

Narrative of the Battle of Long Island by a British Historian : 
The impression produced and artfully instilled into the 
minds of the* Americans was, that the Howes were afraid 
of fighting the captor of Boston. At the same time the 
Gazettes were filled with abuse of the English army and 
flattering appeals to the American heroes. Washington 
himself in one of the orders of the day, told his troops 
that the time was now near at hand which must determine 
whether they were to be freemen or slaves — whether 
they were to have any property or none — whether their 
houses and farms were to be pillaged and destroyed, and 
themselves consigned to a hopeless state of wretchedness. 
" Our cruel and unrelenting enemy," continues the order, 
" leaves us only the choice of a brave resistance or the 
most abject submission. We have, therefore, to resolve to 
concjuer or die.' 5 Having at last been joined by Clinton 
and by nearly all the forces he expected, General Howe, 
on the morning of the 22d of August, put his army in 
motion on Staten Island, and first threw forward a division 
of 4000 men under the command of Clinton, who landed 
in Gravesend Bay, Long Island, without opposition, their 
disembarkation being well covered by three frigates and 
two bombs. Washington reinforced Greneral Sullivan, 
who was holding the island. Clinton's division was soon 
followed by the rest of our army, with the artillery : and, 
upon their landing, Sullivan's advanced guard, which had 
been hovering in the neighborhood of the landing place, 
set fire to all the houses and granaries, and lied precipitately 
to seek cover in the woody heights through which the 
English must pass. 1 Washington, making a most errone- 

'We embarked hi boats, says Harris, and landed without opposition in 
Gravesend Bay, then marelied ^ix niil< 5 inland, and halted, a lar^ ru body <>r' 


on? calculation that Long Island might bo hold, threw over 
more and more reinforcements from New York, until the 
mass of his army was committed on that spot. He gave 
orders that any soldier attempting to conceal himself, or 
run from the field, should be instantly shot ; and he 
solemnly promised to notice and reward such as should 
distinguish themselves. By his direction the Americans, to 
the number of 15,000, were posted on a peninsula towards 
that end of the island which faces the city of New York, 
and is not more than a mile from it : their lines extended 
almost right across the peninsula from Whaaleboght Bay, 
an elbow of the East river, on the left, to a deep marsh on 
a creek emptying into Gowan's Cove on the right: their 
rear was covered against an attack from the English ships 
by some batteries on Governor's Island, Red Hook, and 
Brooklyn-ferry ; and there w 7 ere other batteries on the 
East River to keep open their communication with the 
city of New York : in their front they had a strong line of 
entrenchments secured by abatis, flanked by redoubts, and 
lined with spears or lances, their centre, at Brooklyn, being 
made uncommonly strong ; and in advance of these artifi- 
cial works they had, at the distance of some two miles and 
a half, the natural defences of a range of hills — those to 
which their advanced guard had fallen back on Clinton's 
landing — covered with thick woods extending obliquely, 
nearly all across the island, and intervening between the 
American lines and Lord Howe's army. Their object was 
to occupy these heights, and to defend against the English 
the defiles which led through the hills; and General Put- 

Americans, near us, keeping up a fire from behind walls and trees. About 
4 iwr., on the 2Gth we struck tents, and lay on our arms during the night 
about three miles from Bedford ; and, though in summer, it was the oldest 
night I experienced up to the 25th of November. Such sudden changes oi 
climate are not uncommon here.— Jou rnal, in Luahiagton' 8 Life of General 
Lord Jl'wris. 


nam, whom Washington had sent, with six fresh regiments, 
to take the command over Sullivan, took post on these 
wooded hills, so as to stop all the passes. Putnam took 
post on the left, with his centre nearly opposite to a place 
on the high road called Flat Bush, and Lord Stirling posted 
himself on the right near thot part of the sea-shore called 
the [Narrows. Washington himself had superintended 
these dispositions; but, after passing the day of the 26th 
at Brooklyn in the lines, lie had returned at night to New 
York. General Putnam retired to Brooklyn, leaving 
Sullivan on the hills in command of the left. That evening 
the Hessians under General De Heister took possession of 
the village of Flat Bush, right opposite to Sullivan, whose 
patrols they engaged and whose attention they distracted. 
In the meantime Sir Henry Clinton and Sir William Ers- 
kine, having reconnoitered Sullivan's position and the 
whole range of hills, saw it would not be difficult to turn 
his left flank by crossing the hills, where they were low 
and unguarded, in the direction of the town or village of 
Bedford. Upon receiving their report Howe resolved to. 
make a combined movement in three separate columns 
and in the middle of the nisrht ; and he sent Clinton with 
one column, supported by the brigades under Lord Percy, 
in the direction of Bedford, and another column, under 
General Grant, to turn Lord Stirling's position, bypassing 
between him and the sea ; and he ordered the Hessians to 
be ready so as to attack Sullivan, right in front, by a given 
moment. General Howe marched in person with the first 
of these columns, which quitted its camp at ten o'clock at 
night on the 2Gth of August. The movement was vu\\- 
nently successful, and the troops got close to the hills 
before they were discovered. At the same time General 
Grant, who had a much shorter distance to march, went 
on very leisurely, and at the moment appointed opened a 
heavy fire of musketry and artillery upon Lord Stirling's 


position. This loud roar on their right made both Sullivan 
and Stirling believe that the main body of the English 
army were attempting to pass in that direction; — therefore 
Sullivan hurried reinforcements alone the wooded ridge 
to sustain Stirling who remained on his hill intent only on 
defending that pass. Grant kept him in play till daylight, 
by which time Clinton's division, after some slight skir- 
mishing with patrols, gained the pass on the other side of 
the line ; and General De Heister, moving from Flat Lush 
with his Hessians, had begun a cannonade on Putnam's 
centre, which was covering the defile in which ran the 
direct road to Brooklyn. Nearly at the same time Lord 
Howe put part of his fleet in motion, and began a heavy 
cannonade on Governor's Island and Red Hook, in the 
rear of Brooklyn. About eight o'clock in the morning 
the right of our army got to Bedford, between the fortified 
lines and the ridge of hills, and a loud lire from Clinton's 
guns announced to the Americans on. the ridge, that the 
British were in their rear. At the ominous sound they 
instantly retired from the woods by regiments, hoping to 
regain their fortified lines and camp at Brooklyn; but 
they presently encountered the front of Clinton's column, 
and were driven back again to the hills. 1 Then the Hes- 
sians cannonaded them from the other side, took three of 
their guns, and drove them back again upon Clinton's 
column, which was now deploying so as to block up every 
road and foot-path. The Americans again ran back to 

'Captain Harris, who was engaged, says : — " At day-break, the 27th, the 
light infantry attacked and forced small posts which the "Americans had on 
the road leading to their lines at Bedford. This appeared to be the first 
notice they had of oar being near to them. About nine we fired two signal 
guns to a part of the army under General Grant, who was to make a feint 
in the front of the Americans, while we got round to the rear, and immedi- 
ately marched briskly up to them, when, almost without firing a shot, they 
abandoned their post, and retreated to their lines under cover of their 
guns." — Zuthi/iytusi's Life of Gl/o. Lord Hank*. 


the heights, but, broken and panic-stricken, they could do 
no good anywhere; they were knocked down in heaps by 
De Ilcisters corps — some laid down their arms — some, 

running along the ridge between the Hessians and Clin- 
ton's column, escaped by the road near the .sea-side, some 
hid themselves in the woods ; but a great proportion of 
their left wing and centre were either killed or taken pri- 
soners. Their right, under Lord Stirling, was equally 
panic-stricken on hearing Clinton's firing in the rear: they, 
however, maintained the contest with General Grant until 
they received news of the total rout of the rest of their 
army. They then abandoned their position, and ran for 
their lives across a morass to Mill Creek. It is stated that, 
if General Grant had moved rapidly to the edge of that 
morass, and had secured the head of a mill-dam over 
which they escaped, the greater part of this division must 
have been either drowned or taken prisoners. But most 
of them crossed the creek, and thence continued their run 
to Brooklyn. In their haste, however, they left their com- 
mander behind them, for Lord Stirling was taken prisoner 
by Grant's division. 1 Be? ween the British right, under 
Clinton, and the Hessians, a great many of the American 
officers were taken, including General Sullivan and Gene- 
ral Udell or "Woodhull. The total amount of prisoners was 

*This William, Earl of Stirling, as ho called himself, was the boii of a 
Mr. James Alexander, who had gone out to America in 1714, with tl \ ap- 
pointment from George I. of surveyor-general for the province of Sew 
Jersey. The son, who succeeded to the same office, and also to larg» 
in New Jersey and New York, came over to England in lToT, afti-r his 
father's death, when he was a young man of about one and tw« nty, 
1759 got himself served nearest lawful heir male to Henry,nfth Earl 1 S 
ling, who had died without issue in 1730. On this he assumed thetitle, 1 ut , 
his petition to the king having been referred to the House of Lords, their 
lordships, in 1709, came ro a resolution that he had not made <>r. r his claim. 
He still, nevertheless, continued to call himself a lord, on his own ant] 
and was recognized as snch by the American revolutionists, whose cause 
he joined, and in whose army, <>n the breaking out of the war, he received 
a commission a* major-general. 


1,097, and from 1,200 to 1,500 Americans were killed or 
wounded. The loss of the British was comparatively 
trilling, not exceeding 400 men and officers in killed, 
wounded and taken. In the heat of the action Wash- 
ington crossed over from rscw York to the camp at 
Brooklyn, whence he witnessed the confusion and head- 
long flight of his troops, whom, in our opinion, he had most 
unwisely exposed to an unequal contest. lie also wit- 
nessed, from that ill-omened camp, the ardor of the British 
troops, who followed the American fugitives almost to the 
foot of their works, and who were with difficulty prevented 
from making an assault on their lines — an assault which 
ought to have been made before the fugitives recovered 
from their fatigue and panic. But General Howe was of 
a different opinion, saying, that, though he might carry 
the lines by assault, yet, as it was apparent that the lines 
must become his, at a very cheap rate, by regular ap- 
proaches, he would not throw away the lives of his men ; 
and lie ordered them back to a hollow way, out of the 
reach of the enemy's fire. 1 The British army encamped 
that night in front of the American lines ; and on the fol- 
lowing morning, the 28th of August, they began to break 
ground about six hundred yards from one of the redoubts. 
They seemed to have been so absorbed by this tedious and 
laborious occupation, to have had their eyes so bent and 
fixed upon the earth and their pickaxes, spades, and mat- 
tocks — as to have been blind to everything else that was 
passing; and they kept digging their trenches on one side, 
while Washington was smusjffliag his forces out on the 

l Stedman. — Harris says in his journal, — " Our men were most ca^er to 
attack them in their lines, and I am' convinced would have carried them : 
but we were ordered to retreat out of the reach of their guns, and lay iron 
about 4 P.M. till very near dark at the entrance of a small wood, exposed 
to the lire of their riflemen. During tie' whole evening they hit but one 
man, though their balls continually whistled over our heads and lodged in 
the trees above us." 


other, and ferrying them over East River to the city of 
New York. It is said, however, that a marvellously thick 
fog concealed and favored the American general's critical 
operation. On the night of the 29th, having collected a 
number of boats, and removed his military stores, with 
part of his provisions and the lighter part of his. artillery, 
he began to embark his men. When the party first em- 
barked were landed on the New York side, the boals 
returned for another; and this ferrying occupied several 
hours, during which Washington, who kept his own person 
on the New York side of the water, expected every mo- 
ment that General Howe would burst through his lines at 
Brooklyn, and take his men in the rear, and that Lord 
Howe would send some of his ships up the East Bivcr to 
destroy their fragile boats and every hope of escape from 
Long Island. But the high-feeding English general slept 
on; and his brother, the admiral, though not so apt to 
cloze, did not move a single ship or boat, and was, to all 
appearance, unconscious of what was going on. Fort Sul- 
livan may have taught the necessity of caution in attacking 
suchw r orks: but it was not necessary to attempt taking 
the forts or batteries on Governor's Island and Paulus 
Hook, or any of the works in front of New York: all that 
was needed was to pass them, which might have been 
done with the greatest ease, as was soon shown by two 
English frigates that despised their fire, ascended the 
Hudson, and cut off the communication, by water, between 
"Washington's army at New York and the remnant oi' the 
army of Canada on Lake Champlain. Nothing but a mira- 
cle of negligence, slowness, and stupidity could possibly 
have saved the forces — the half of his army — which 
Washington had exposed on Long Island, and, in point of 
generalship, nothing except the English letting them go 
when they were there, was so miserable as Washington's 
sendintr the Americans to that island. But even after his 


lucky escape, Washington found himself in a very critical 
situation ; for he not only had a superior, and, to a degec, 
a victorious force, in front, with a commanding fleet, bat 
all the country round about him was hostile to his cause. 
On the first appearance of Lord Howe, the people of 
Staten Island took the oath of allegiance to the British 
crown, and joyfully offered to serve as volunteers; the 
people of Long Island were equally loyal ; on both sides 
the Hudson, — in I\ T ew Jersey, as in New York — the anti- 
revolutionists began to declare themselves in vast numbers ; 
the whole continent, indeed, between New England and 
the Potomac abounded with royalists or with very luke- 
warm republicans, and the city of New York, taken as a 
whole, was decidedly hostile to Congress. Washington 
felt that, under all these circumstances, there was no posi- 
bility of defending the important city for which lie had 
risked so much — even to putting his whole army in 

[Knight's Pictorial History of England during the Reign of George the 
Third, vol. i, p. 271.] 

[ No. 42. ] 

Account of the Lmding of the British, and the succeeding Engage- 
ments, by C. Steelman, an officer serving under Gen. JJuwe. 

The troops under general Clinton, from the southward 
having joined the grand army, the campaign opened on 
the twenty-second of August. A division of four thousand 
men, under the command of general Clinton, landed with- 
out opposition in Gravesend Bay, Long Island, to the 
right of the Narrows, their disembarkation being covered 
by three frigates and two bomb ketches: This division 
having landed without resistance, the rest of the army and 


artillery were also landed. The advanced party of the 
enemy fled at the approach of the army, setting lire, on 
their retreat, to all the houses and granaries, and seeking 
refuge in the woody heights that commanded the way 
which the English were under the necessity of passing. 
The English possessed an extent, reaching from the Nar- 
rows through Gravesend and Utrecht. The Americans, 
to the number of fifteen thousand, were posted on a penin- 
sula, between Mill Creek, a little above Red Hook, and an 
elbow of the river, called Wallabach Bay. They had con- 
structed strong fortifications opposite to Xew York, from 
which they were separated by the East liiver, at the dis- 
tance of a mile. A line of intrenchments from the Mill 
Creek enclosed a large space of ground, on which stood the 
American camp. This line was not only secured by abatis 
but flanked by strong redoubts, and lined with spears or 
lances provided against assault. From this post ten thou- 
sand men, under the command of general Putnam, were 
detached. Their object was to occupy the heights which 
obliquely intersected the Island, and to defend against the 
progress of the English, the defiles which led through 
those hills. 

Opposite the centre of Putnam's line stood, in the plain, 
the village of Flat Bush. To this town the Hessians, 
under general DeHeister, were advanced, occupying en- 
tirely the attention of the Americans, and frequently skir- 
mishing with their patrols. In the meantime sir Henry 
Clinton and sir TVilliain Erskine, having reeonnoiterecf the 
position of the enemy, saw that it would not be a diilicult 
matter to turn their left flank, which would cither oblige 
them to risk an ens-a^ement, or to retire under manifest 
disadvantage. This intelligence being communicated to 
sir "William Howe, he consented to make the attempt. 
Accordingly the right wing of the Englisb army moved, 
consisting of a strong advanced corps, commanded by 


general Clinton, supported by the brigades under lord 
Percy. The commander-in-chief himself marched with 

this corps, which quitted its camp at nine o'clock at nighl 
on the twenty-sixth of August, crossing the country, by 
Flat Lands, in order to secure a pass over the heights of 
Guiana, on the road to Bedford. This pass the enemy 
had neglected to secure by detachments, on account of its 
great distance. In order to watch it, however, they sent 
out occasional patrols of cavalry: But one of these being 
intercepted by a British advanced guard, the pass was 
gained without any alarm being communicated to the 
Americans. At nine o'clock in the morninsc the British 
passed the heights and readied Bedford. An attack was 
immediately begun on the enemy's left; they made but a 
feeble resistance, and retired from the woody grounds to 
their lilies, into which they threw themselves in evident 
confusion. It is to be lamented that this advantage was 
not pursued; for in the confusion into which the enemy 
were thrown by the rapid march of the English army, a 
most decisive victory would have undoubtedly accrued to 
the British arms. The works of the enemy could not have 
resisted an attack, when it is considered that it might have 
been made by that part of the army under Sir William 
Howe, which had not been engaged, and which therefore 
possessed a manifest superiority over troops fatigued by 
contest, exhausted by hard labor, and disheartened by par- 
tial defeat. 

As soon as the firing on the enemy's left was heard, 
general DeHeister, with a column of Hessians from Flat 
Bush, attacked the centre of the Americans. After a warm 
eriarasrement the enemy was routed and driven into the 
woods, with the loss of three pieces of cannon. The left 
column, led by General Grant, advancing from the Narrows 
by the edge of the bay, in order to divert the attention of 
the enemy from the principal attack on the right, about 


midnight fell in with their advanced guard, stationed at a 
strong- pass, which, however, they immediately abandoned, 
and retired to a very advantageous post, whore they kept 
their ground. On the advancement of the English, a 
furious cannonade commenced on hoth sides, which was 
continued with unceasing perseverance till the enemy 
heard the firing at Bedford. The Americans in this quar- 
ter did not attempt to retire until they received news of 
the total rout of the rest of their army. Apprehensive 
then of "being unable to regain their lines, they made a 
sudden movement to secure a retreat, by crossing a morass 
to Mill Creek, which covered the right of their works. 
But this movement was made in much disorder and con- 
fusion ; General Grant, however, did not take adequate 
advantage of it, for had he moved rapidly to the edge of 
the morass, through which, and over a mill dam, the princi- 
pal part of them escaped, the greatest number of iUo 
detachment, as well as those who fled from Flat Bush, 
must have either been drowned or taken prisoners. 

Thus ended the operations of the day : Victory was cer- 
tainly on the side of the English ; but it was not so decis- 
ive as it might have been, owing to the restrictions imposed 
by the commander-in-chief. The loss of the Americans 
was great. Two thousand were either killed on the held, 
drowned, or taken prisoners : And among the latter, Gene- 
rals Sullivan, Udell and Lord Stirling. The Maryland 
regiment suffered most severely, having lost upwards of 
two hundred and sixty men ; which was much regretted, 
as that regiment was composed of young men ol' the best 
families in the country. The royal army took six pieces 
of brass ordnance. The loss on the part of the English 
did not exceed three hundred in killed and wounded and 
of which number between sixty and seventy were killed; 
among the killed was lieutenant-colonel Grant of the 
fortieth regiment; among the wounded, lieutenant-colonel 


Monckton. The British troops, on this occasion displayed 
great activity and valour. So impetuous was their cou- 
rage, that it was not without difficulty that they could bi 
restrained from attacking- the American lines ; and had 
they been permitted to go on, in the judgment of most men 
including Sir William Howe himself, they, would have 
carried them. "But," says the general, " as it was apparent 
that the lines must become ours at a very cheap rate by 
regular approaches, I would not risk the loss that might 
have been sustained in the assault, and ordered them back 
to a hollow way out of the reach of the musquetry." 

On the evening of the twenty-seventh, our army en- 
camped in front of the enemy's lines; and on the twenty- 
eighth broke ground about six hundred yards from one of 
the redoubts on the left. The Americans finding that it 
was impossible to maintain their post on Long Island, 
evacuated their lines on the twenty-ninth, and made good 
their retreat to iNew York. At first the wind and tide 
were both unfavorable to the Americans; nor was it 
thought possible that they could have effected their retreat 
on the evening of the twenty-ninth, until about eleven 
o'clock, the wind shifting, and the sea becoming more 
calm, the boats were enabled to pass. Another remark- 
able circumstance was, that on Long Island hung a thick 
fog, which prevented the British troops from discovering 
the operations of the enemy; while on t]ie side of New 
York the atmosphere was perfectly clear. The retreat 
was effected in thirteen hours, though nine thousand men 
had to pass over the river, besides field artillery, ammuni- 
tion, provisions, cattle, horses, and carts. 

The circumstances of this retreat were particularly glori- 
ous to the Americans. They had been driven to the 
corner of an island, where they were hemmed in within 
the narrow space of two square miles. In their front was 
an encampment of near twenty thousand men : in their 


roar, an ami of the sea, a mile wide, which they could not 
cross but in several embarkations. Notwithstanding these 
difficulties, they secured a retreat without the loss of a man. 
The pickets of the English army arrived only in time to 
fire upon their rear-guard already too far removed from the 
shore to receive any damage. Sir William Howe had 
early intelligence sent him of the retreat of the Americans ; 
hut a considerable time had elapsed before a pursuit was 
ordered. Sir William Howe, at length, however, desired 
Lord Percy to order a pursuit ; but it was too late. The 
enemy had effected their retreat, which was rendered less 
hazardous from the want of frigates in the East River 
between Long; Island and Yew York. Had any armed 
ships been stationed there, it would have been impossible 
for them to have made their escape. The East River is 
deep enough for a seventy-four gun ship to ride at anchor.' 
Washington thought himself happy in getting safe with his 
papers from Long Island, having crossed to New York in a 
small boat. Had two or even one frigate moored as high up 
as Red Hook, as the Phoenix and Rose men of war had done 
before, the one carrying forty-four guns, and the othertwenty- 
eight, the retreat of the Americans would have been cut 
off most completely; and indeed so decided were the Ameri- 
cans themselves in this opinion, that, had only a single frigate 
been stationed in the East River, they must have surrendered 
at discretion. It is to be observed, that in the very same 
boats in which the Americans crossed from Yew York to 
Long Island, they recrossed after their defeat from Long 
Island to Yew York, the boats having lain for three days 
on the Long Island shore in readiness to carry them off. 
Yow it is evident that this small craft, by the above pre- 
caution, might have been effectually destroyed. 

In reviewing the actions of men, the historian is often 
at a loss to conjecture the secret causes that gave them 
birth: It cannot be denied but that the American army 


lay almost entirely at the will of the English. That they 
were therefore suffered to retire in safety, has by boiuo 
been attributed to the reluetanee of the commaudcr-iu-ehni' 
to shed the blood of a people so nearly allied to that source 
from whence he derived all his authority and power. Wo 
arc rather inclined to adopt this idea, and to suppose mo- 
tives of mistaken policy, than to leave ground for an imagi- 
nation that the escape of the Americans resulted from any 
want of exertion on the part of Sir William Howe, or 
deficiency in the military science. He might possibly have 
conceived that the late victory would produce a revolution 
in sentiment capable of terminating the war without the 
extremity which it appeared to be, beyond all possibility of 
doubt, in his power to enforce. 

[Stedmcm's History of t7tc American War, vol. i, p. 103.] 

[ No. 43. ] 

Extracts from Minutes of Testimony of British Officers com- 
manding in the battle of 21th August, before a Committee of 

Earl Cornwallis Examined by Sir William Howe. 
It is extremely difficult to obtain from the inhabitants a 
knowledge of the face of the country : it is in general so 
covered with wood, and so favourable to ambuscades, that 
reconnoitering can afford but an imperfect knowledge ; I 
never saw a stronger or more defensive country. Our 
movements were much embarrassed and retarded in the 
field by the difficulty in getting provisions, and from the 
closeness of the country. I did not see the enemy's lines 
at Brooklyn; I was on the left ; I never heard it suggested 
that they could have been carried by assault. It was sup- 

documents: 4Gi 

posed at that time the enemy's main strength was on York 
island. I know of no delay in landing on York island ; 
the preparations partly depended on the naval department; 
nor of any avoidable delay prior to the moving from it. 

Examined by other Members. I never heard the enemy at 
Brooklyn were retiring. There was no getting behind 
the enemy's lines without fording them. I do not know 
these lines were complete; I did not see them during the 
action; I was detached to Newtown; on my return they 
were nearly demolished 

Breadth of the sound between Long inland and Xcw 
York about 1000 or 1200 yards. I know no place where 
we could have taken post so as to discern what was passing 

at Brooklyn I do not know how near the grenadiers 

and 33d pursued the enemy to their lines at Brooklyn, or 
that it required repeated orders to make them desist. 

Major General Grey, Examined by Sir William Hence. 

The Americans in general so very much against us, they 
deserted the country wherever we came, and no intelligence 
could be depended upon. The part I saw is the strongest 
country I ever was in; everywhere hilly, covered with 
wood, intersected by ravines, creeks and marshy grounds. 
Little or no knowledge could be got by reconnoitering. 
Best calculated for the defensive ; every one hundred yards 
that I have seen might be disputed. Could seldom march 
but in one column, consequently very slow. 

Mr. MONTRESOR, formerly a Captain of Engineers, but lately n - 
s'ujn'.d. Examined by Sir William and Lord Howe. 

It would not have been prudent to have assaulted the 
lines at Brooklyn, August 27th, 1776. The lines were 
from Wallabout bay to a swamp that intersects the land 
between the main and Redhook, which terminates the 


lines; one mile and a half extent, including the angles 
cannon proof, five redoubts, or rather fortresses, with 

ditches, as had the lines that formed the intervals 

AYe should have lost a considerable number of men had 
we attacked the lines at Brooklyn; after they were evacu- 
ated, I was the first person in the works, and had the 
greatest difficulty with a corporal and six men to get 
through the abatties where there was no one to oppose me. 

'Examined by other members. I don't know our numbers 

the 27th of August, 177G; the. enemy 8 or 10,000 men 

At day break, 4 o'clock, I gave the alarm of the evacua- 
tion; 25 mimites after the piquets marched. To have 
carried on the approaches allowing every tiling prepared 
would have taken 3 days small parties could not dis- 
cover the enemy going off; only a desperate party would 
attempt to have looked into a work, or have got to the 
crest of a work, and they could not discover an evacuation 

till they were there, it would have been improper to 

have suffered them (the troops) to storm the redoubt, the 
artillery was not up, no fascines to fill the ditches, no axes 
for cutting the abatties, no scaling ladders, or proper 
apparatus for the assault of so respectable a work. The 

rebel works judiciously planned, but ill executed It 

would have taken 2-i hours to have brought up cannon and 
apparatus to attack Brooklyn redoubt. 

Majob Gen. Robertson Examined by Lorcl George Germain. 

I have served about 24 years in America believe 

that the few artful men who brought about the declara- 
tion of independence, were the only people that rejoiced 

at it I understand more than two-thirds of the people 

would prefer the King's government to the tyranny of the 

Congress When we lauded first on Long island we 

found all the farms stocked, and most of the people living 


in their houses Some parties plundered Newtown on 

Long' island. I had them tried; they were sentenced and 
punished; I sent to the town and desired I might pay the 
damage. The soldiers were acquainted with this, and 
never plundered any more. 

Examined by other Members. My employment led me to 
be informed of the resources of the country in different 
parts of it, and of the nature of those resources 

Exeimined by Sir William Howe. Rebel officers informed. 
me that in all at !New York and Long Island they were 

16,000, (in summer 1770) The army that came from 

Halifax to Staten Island might he 6000 men, rank and file. 
I gave Sir "William Howe my reasons against landing on 
Long island at that time; because the rebels were in- 
trenched and in force on Long Island ; we had no carriages; 
the soldiers must have carried everything we wanted; and 

every day an army from Europe was expected We 

found a great number of cattle on Long island ; when 
they were taken by the General's orders, I dare say he 
directed payment, but many were taken he could know 
nothing of. The inhabitants might be frightened out of 
Utrecht fur anything I know ; but I found numbers in 

Gravesend and Flatbush I know the disposition of the 

inhabitants ; I found them in the places I went to; if any 
ran away, it was through fear, not disaffection. 

Examined by severed 3Ie//d>ers. I commanded at Isew 
York, and nobody came in without my questioning thorn ; 
I took every opportunity, the subject was interesting. I 
never heard the rebels deserted in corps; but that their 
militia refused to be drafted, and the rebels brought troops 
and forced them. A great number of persons, on the 
defeat of the rebels in Loug island declared for govern- 


ment Gen. Lee informed me that half the rebel continental 

army were from Ireland At Brooklyn, Aug. 27th, L770 

a, ridge of heights separated us from the rebels; the rebels 
had possession of these heights; it would have been diili- 
cult to have forced them: Gen. Howe by a night march 
pushed in between these heights and the rebel lines; by 
this movement we got 2000 prisoners ; our troops were 
going to storm the lines, when Gen. Howe ordered them 
back. We have since heard these lines were weakly 
manned, and had only 300 men in them; Putnam having 
detached all the rest of his 7000 men to the heights; none 
of us knew this at that time; I do not think storming a 

proper measure At 7 in the morning, I was informed, 

the rebels had evacuated their lines: I dare soy it w;i.^ 
known earlier at bend quarters; their rear guards cm- 
barked between 8 and 9; I was ordered to march about 8; 
distance from the lines to the ferry a mile and a half. 
Question. Had our troops marched at G o'clock, might not 
the rebel rear been cut off? Ans. From our camp to the 
place where the rebels embarked could not be above an 
hour's march. Q. Could any of the rear guard have 
embarked and escaped in the face of our troops ? A. The 
place of embarkation was disadvantageous to the rebels : 
it is commanded bv heights. If the intelligence had been 
known at 4 o'clock, [Moniresor jiroves that it was known 
at 4 o'clock,'] there was time enough to come up with 
them. Quest. Do yon not think it was an object at that 
time to have destroyed as many of the rebel army as possi- 
ble? Ans. At all times. 


Examined by Sir William Howe When I was marching 

towards Brooklyn ferry, and came near the rebel Hncs, J 
received orders to march to Hellgate, and oppose Gen. 
Lee who was said to he landed there. Capt. Balfour told 
tag at 7 o'clock the rebels had quilted their lines: i im- 


mediately got my brigade under arms; sent notice I was 
ready; wailed for orders to march, and received them 
about 8 o'clock. I marched within 120 or 130 yards of 
the enemy's lines; I knew the ground perfectly well; I 
could not judge of the strength of the lines; I imagine the 
General called back "the troops for the same reason.. 1. 
understood the grenadiers under Col. Stuart were moving 
on when they were called back; and that Gen. Vauglian 
sent to know if he should go on and attack the lines, and 
Gen. Howe ordered him to retire. 

Questions from the Committee. A great many cannon shot 
flew over us, they were ill pointed; some men were killed 
and wounded by small arms. Q. Do you think if the 
rebel lines had been forced at that time, all the rebel corps 
might have been taken or destroyed ? A. All that were on 
Long Island. 

Extract from a Letter from New York, March 9th, 1777. 

* * * * Last August on Long Island we 
rejected an opportunity of terminating the rebellion; the 
rebels when defeated ran into their lines in the utmost dis- 
order, our grenadiers were following them with great 
ardour, when the general after much difficulty, called them 
off. Had our troops been allowed to go on, not a soul of 
the rebels would have escaped. A lady, whose husband 
and brother were rebel officers, has given us the foil owing- 
fact : on. their defeat they rushed into the house, and 
desired her to fly with her child, as they expected every 
moment to be cut in pieces. She did so; but could not 
get within a quarter of a mile of the ferry, the rebel crowd 
was so great, and they were in such trepidation, that those 
in the rear were mounting on the shoulders and clambering 


over the heads of those before them. What a glorious 

opportunity did Gen. Howe here reject of finishing tin- 
war with eclat. Wc threw away three days in regular 
approaches, during all which time the rebels were ferrying 
themselves over, for it was the morning of the 30th before 
their rear embarked. 

Lord Howe could send two frigates up the Xorth river, 
for a whim of his own, and expose them to the fire of at 
least 100 pieces of cannon, but he lay almost within sight 
of the ferry, and let the rebel army cross it, tho' it was a 
branch of the sea near a mile wide, for three days, or at 
least two days and a half, without sending any of his 
numerous squadron to annoy them. I asked a warm 
friend of the admiral's, why his lordship did not bring his 
heavy ships against the batteries on the East river, and cut 
off the rebel retreat, as well as risk his frigates for no pur- 
pose up the North river? The reply was, the admiral did 
not choose to risk his Majesty's ships; thus his lordship 
will not risk his Majesty's ships; the general will not risk 
his Majesty's men ; for these reasons the rebels escaped, 
and the rebellion continues. 

Every day presents new blunders, we have lost three 
regiments of Hessians in the Jerseys this winter, and 
nearly an equal number of our own men from our foraging 
parties; all from not supporting and protecting our line of 
cantonment formed last year. Our commander has been 
enjoying his pleasures while everything has been going t<> 
wreck in the Jerseys. What do you think of the favour- 
ite sultana's losing 300 guineas in a night at cards, who 
three years ago would have found it difficult to have mus- 
tered as many pence? Don't you think this Boston lady 
in hi eh luck? As to the husband his various places are 
reckoned at 6000/, a year; it is said he docs not save a shil- 
ling: but he looks fat and contented. 



/ternaries on General ]/owc 9 sown Account of his Proceedings on 
Long Island, in Ihe Extraordinary Gazette of October 10///, 

* * * Gen. Howe at the head of between 
twenty and thirty thousand men, and attended by a great 
fleet, landed on Long Island, a force much superior in 
number, and much more in discipline to that which opposed 
him. By a just disposition the outposts were all forced : ten 
thousand of the rebels, as the general himself counts them 
were defeated; besides the killed, wounded, and drowned, 
eleven hundred of them were made prisoners, and the rest 
fled with the utmost precipitation into their lines, pursued 
by the victors close up to their trenches. Filled with 
all the ardour of success, the troops would instantly have 
entered their camp, when the general thought he had, for 
that day at least done the rebel army damage enough ; 
and chose to give them time to recover their fright. Let 
us read his own account of the affair. " The grenadiers 
and 38d regiment being in front of the column, soon ap- 
proached within musket shot of the enemy's lines at Brook- 
lyn ; from whence these battalions, without regard to the 
fire of cannon and small arms upon them, pursued num- 
bers of the rebels that were retiring from the heights, so 
close to their principal redoubt, and with such eagerness 
to attack it by storm, that it required repeated orders to 
prevail on them to desist from the attempt. Had they been 
permitted to go on, it is my opinion they would have carried the 
redoubt; but as it was apparent the lines must have been 
ours at a very cheap rate by regular approaches, I would 
not risk the loss that might have been sustained in the 
assault, and ordered them back to a hollow way, in the 
front of the works, out of the reach of the nrosquetry." 
Can the reader wonder, that the troops were thus eager 
for the attack, and that it required repeated orders to pre- 


vail upon them to desist, when the general himself was of 
opinion, and every other man plainly saw, that the linca 
must have been forced, and the whole rebel army taken or 
destroyed? Even without any previous defeat, the army 
which attacks another in their trenches, is generally thought 
to have the advantage 

The loss of a hundred men, which other generals thought 
wouldbe the greatest they could sustain in forcing the camp ; 
and the putting an end to the war, by the de[p]letion of the 
rebel army, would have been the saving of ten thousand 
brave men's lives, which have been lost by protracting it. 

But it was apparent, we are told, that the lines must 
have been ours at a very cheap rate by regular approaches. 
Doubtless; ■ — but they helped him to a much cheaper one ; 
and that was to move off, and leave them to him. Were 
not the same boats, which carried the rebel army from New 
York to Long Island, lying ready to bring them back from 
Long Island to JSTew York? Had the admiral destroyed 
any one of them ? Could they wish for more than three 
days leisure to collect and add to them all the vessels in 
New York, and the adjacent places, to carry them off? 
Could he think that they would not exert their utmost 
diligence to save themselves from the destruction which 
they hourly expected 

The expression, " leaving their cannon in all their 
works," manifestly leads us to conclude, that they did not 
take any away. If this was the case, and we look to the 
list of the cannon taken, in what a contemptible light 
must all these lines, redoubts, and. batteries appear. The 
brass pieces were taken in the rout of the 27th. From 
that day therefore to the 30th, a great army, with forty 
pieces of artillery, besides their field equipage, attended 
by a fleet carrying many hundred guns, are all stopped in 
the full career of victory, and kept in awe for three days 
together, by lines, redoubts, and batteries, of {Jtree miles 


extent, containing all of them put together only twenty-six 
■pieces of iron ordnance. All these various movements, 
necessarily attending the retreat and embarkation of ten 
or twelve thousand men, with the best part of their cannon, 
baggage and stores, were performed without any the least 
interruption from either army or fleet, which lay so near: 
and that too on the very night of a full moon. Either 
the ships, on one of the foregoing days, could have pushed 
up beyond the ferry, and prevented that vast transporta- 
tion ; or, they could not ; because, I suppose, that the 
batteries on the two shores, and on Governor's Island, 
rendered it impracticable. But then the general could 
not but know this. And the public might have expected 
that he would have pressed the enemy so much the more, 
and given them no time to escape from him at land; since 
he knew he could not intercept their passage at sea. The 
nation surely need not repent the having put this gentle- 
man at the head of an American establishment for fifty- 
four thousand troops, attended with ninety-six ships of 

Extrad'from « MATTER of FACT." Addressed to Lord 
George Germain. 

* * * * I shall beg your lordship's atten- 
tion, to the affairs of the town and province of New York. 
I do not like to treat of public scandal; I will not let tall 
a single word upon any man's intrigues, where they do 
not interfere with the public good; where they do, the 
public has a right to know the cause of supineness and 
inattention in a general, or of corruption in a commissary. 
Gaming must ever prove of the very worst consequences 
in an army, and totally ruinous if the example should hap- 
pen to be set publicly by the commander: it then destroys 


subordination and respect, encourages licentiousness, and 

all discipline falls of course. A young officer who behold 
his general every evening, at a pharo table, 1 will not hay 
lose his temper, though certainly subject to fret like other 
men who play a game of chance, in which there can he no 
amusement but as it gratifies avarice, — I say, the young 
officer who beholds his general in such a situation, will soon 
lose the respect to his station, which he has lost to his 
person, when he is allowed to sport as freely at hi3 elbow 
on his slender income, as the general does on his princely 
revenues. lie is ashamed not to do it: he expects to 
make his court by it. There is little economy in an army 
where high gaming is allowed; it is beneath the man who 
plays at night for hundreds, to trouble himself the next 
day, how he is to live upon his pay: he runs in debt for ins 
necessaries, and the country must be plundered to supply 
his mistress. I ask you, my lord, can the general, or any 
other officer of rank, pretend to restrain, much less 
punish, an inferior for plundering, wdien. he perhaps won 
all the poor gentleman's money the night before? To this 
cause, perhaps, as much as to the example set by the 
Hessians, may be attributed the scandalous height to 
which plundering is arrived at in the army. And yet, my 
lord, I cannot suppose that this was the cause of officers of 
very high rank taking large quantities of wine, tobacco, 
and valuable effects belonging to merchants at ]\ ew York, 
who were known to be loyal, and who eagerly embraced 
the first opportunity of joining the King's troops. This 
must have been done under the impressions of that favorite 
idea " that Parliament has declared America to be in 
rebellion, and that therefore every man in it lias ipso facto 
forfeited his estate, and holds it entirely at his Majesty's 

mercy, 1 ' that is at the disposal of the army : That arch 

plunderer, Gen. I)e Ileister, offered the house he lived in 
at lSew York at; public sale, though it was the property of 


a very loyal subject, who had voluntarily and hospitably 
accommodated him with the use of it. This may he no- 
thing astonishing in a Hessian. But I have seen the furni- 
ture of good and loyal subjects, men who arc suffering 
restraint or imprisonment among the rebels, sold by public 
auction ; the carriages of gentlemen of the first rank. seized 
upon ; their arms defaced, and the plunderer's arms bla- 
zoned in their place ; and this too by British officers. An 
officer of high rank took forcible possession of a gentle- 
man's carriage and horses, after it was well known he had 
received pardon from the King's commissioners: he used 
it for several months, and was with difficulty prevailed on 
to give it up. This was acting under the strongest delu- 
sion," to speak of it in the mildest terms ; not even allowing 
the King's pardon to save American property from the gene- 
ral passion for confiscation. It was the same officer who 
made so free with another gentleman's wine, and even 
offered it in presents by the pipe to his. friends : a man, 
who from ostentation and weakness, has vibrated between 
the desire of popularity as a magistrate, and the vanity of 
being considered as a military genius. I conceal his name, 
because he really has good qualities, which break some- 
times through the cloud of imperfections that surround 
them. I have thus particularized some instances, least 
your lordships should suspect the truth of my general as- 

Extract from " Rcvieio of the War." 
* * * * "When he [Gen. Howe] landed 

on Long island, he neglected to seize the heights above 
FlatBusbs the rebels knew their importance, and took 
possession of them at 3 in the afternoon, which he might 
have done at 10 in the morning. This needed might have 


Leon fatal to him. He had nearly been induced to attack 
where he must have failed. But the enemy had their u< ■•_•■. 
lects too. "Washington's order for securing the Jamaica 
road was not obeyed. G en. Howe by a night march occupied 
that pass; and unperceived by the enemy, got between 
their army on the heights and their lines. The rebels fled 
in the utmost disorder. Sullivan owned that when he saw 
himself surrounded, he desired his men to shift for them- 
selves. This they did with great expedition: and our 
troops were following the rebel fugitives into their lines, 
when they were with the utmost difficulty called back by 
the repeated orders of Gen. Howe. Exclusive of the rebels 
who were routed, there were only 300 men with Putnam 
in their lines. There is not the least doubt but our soldiers 
would have carried them by storm, and in consequence, 
all the enemy's army on Long island, consisting of 7,000 
men, must have been killed or taken. . . . 

Without a single movement, we lay 3 days in the face 
of these lines with 18,000 men eager for battle, and allowed 
the enemy to ferry themselves over to Xew York with all 
their baggage, though their place of embarkation was only 
a, mile and a half from our camp. Lord Howe was ecpially 
supine ; he lay almost within sight of the ferry, and with 
the most numerous ileet ever seen in that part of the 
world, as if he had been sent to cover, rather than to cut 
off their retreat. Had the two brothers most earnestly 
desired that the rebel army should escape, it was impossi- 
ble for them to have acted more properly for the effecting 
of such a purpose. 

Though our commander was now in possession of the 
heights that commanded Governor's island, he suffered 
loQO rebels to go off without the least disturbance. They 
retired in such fright that they abandoned their cannon; 
but two days after, finding we did not take possession, 
they returned and carried them off to Xew York. Our 


chief now composed himself for more than a fortnight, 
only amusing himself in erecting a battery against a gen- 
tleman's house on York island, endeavoring to frighten 
the rebels with the noise of his cannon, but without doin»- 
them any harm. During this time lie should have gone 
up the East river. . . and cutoff the rebel retreat by King's 
bridge, while his lordship with his parade fleet, should 
have occupied the Xorth and East rivers: these plain and 
simple movements would have given us all Washington's 
army, and all the rebel ringleaders almost without firing 
a gun ; for they must have surrendered soon for want of 
provisions. In this case too, we should have saved the 500 
men lost before fort Washington. 

But. as we were never to be in the right, after giving the. 
rebels 17 days to run away from New York, we crossed 
the ferry with the most pompous parade to take possession 
of it. Had we been ivise and active, we might even now 
have cut off the retreat of rebels by King's bridge, but 
four weeks were spent at Haerlem, and the opportunity 
lost, the rebels at last having discovered their dangerous 
situation. After so much delay, negligence, and blind- 
ness, we were at last to do, when all opportunity was gone, 
what we ought to have done six weeks before. Our 
infallible Hero, above all good advice, and taking his own 
way, landed on Frogsneck, Oct. 12th, without ever think- 
ing 1 beforehand it was necessary to reconnoitre the ground. 
The enemy having no intention to dispute this paltry slip 
of land with him, broke down the bridge that joined it 
to the main, and looked at him from their entrenchments 
on the opposite side with no little satisfaction; they had 
shut him out from the continent: he was now fairly blocked 
up on the land side. 

[The Detail and Conduct of the American War, &c, 3d Ed., London, 1780.] 



[ ]S T o. 44. ] 
Extract of a letter from Philadelphia, 
Dated August 31, 1776, Saturday, two o'clock, p. m. 
You will no doubt be very anxious to receive a particu- 
lar account of the late engagement between our troops and 
the enemy on Long-Island. I wish our information enal ►led 
me to relieve you, but at present we are in the most pain- 
ful state of suspense, the post not having yet arrived, by 
which we expect full intelligence. From the letters wc 
have received, with what I can collect of others sent to 
inhabitants of this city, it appears that the enemy, having 
landed a number of troops on the night of the 2Gth, and 
posted them advantageously, without being discovered by 
our people, and having also posted a part of their Army in 
a wood, some distance from the main body, proceeded in a 
heavy column towards our intrenehments. Early on the 
mornino; of the 27th, a firing be^an between our advanced 
guard and theirs; the enemy, with their middle column, 
made a feint at our works, and having received a fire, 
retreated. A brigade of our troops, consisting of the first 
Kew-York Battalion, two Pennsylvania, one Delaware, 
and the Maryland Battalion, under the command of Gene- 
rals Sullivan and Stirling, followed the enemy. A very hot 
fire was kept up. When the enemy had retreated, our 
troops advanced upon them some distance. The troops of 
the enemy, posted for that purpose, surrounded our friendd 
and a most savage engagement ensued ; no relief coukl be 
given from the fort to our troops, without hazarding the 
post at Loug-Island. Thus surrounded with thrice their 
numbers, galled on one side by Light-Horse, and torn with 
artillery in front, they bravely fought for several hours : 
however, after having given the most convincing proofs of 
their bravery and skill, and having sustained considerable 


loss, they were obliged to yield to superior numbers; they 
were broken, and retreated as well as they could. Many 
fell by the bayonet, which was pushed with equal obstinacy 
by the two adverse parties. Our loss is not ascertained — 
some say five hundred, and some say three. By deserters, 
the enemy had killed and wounded five hundred. Gene- 
rals Stirling and Sullivan were both missing, when we last 
heard from General Washington. Thursday morning, four 
o'clock, Colonels Miles and Alice were also missing, when 
our last intelligence was sent. A Colonel Grant, of the 
enemy, was killed; who else of distinction, we have not 
heard. The enemy, upon the retreat of our brigade, took 
possession of a very advantageous wood, near our out in- 
trenchment. Smallwood's Battalion of Marylanders were 
distinguished in the Held by the most intrepid courage, the 
most regular use of the musket, and judicious movements 
of the body. All the other Battalions behaved as became 
Americans and men of honor, fighting for their rights of 
freemen. When our party was overcome and broken, by 
superior numbers surrounding them on all sides, three 
companies of the Maryland broke the enemy's linos, and 
fought their way through ; the others attempted to cross 
a small creek, which proved fatal to several of them. I 
have not heard of their loss, but presume it is very heavy, 
they being in a situation very much exposed, facing the 
enemy's cannon, in the open field for a considerable 
time.. Captain Veazey and Lieutenant Butler are among 
the honorable slain. I don't hear of any other officers of 
that battalion being killed or taken. There is a report in 
town that Lord Stirling g;ot into the camp safe, but 1 fear 
it is not true. Since this engagement, there have been fre- 
quent skirmishes between our troops and the enemy, the 
result of which we have not heard. Our posts are now 
very near to each other, and we expect hourly to hear of a 
very general engagement. 


Saturday, three o'clock p. m. — l>y the post arrived just 
now, we are certainly informed, that our whole Army, the 
night before last, retreated from Long-Island to New- Voi ' , 
bringing away the most of their cannon, and spiking what 

was left. The enemy were taking measures to cut oil* the 
communications between the island and the main, and had 
also got possession of a post from which they could dis- 
tress our camp at Long-Island. Lord Stirling and General 
Sullivan are both prisoners. The enemy it is said have lost 
one thousand men ; two Generals of theirs are also killed ; 
they sent a flag to exchange Sullivan and Stirling for two 
missing Generals of theirs, but we had them not, so that 
they must have fell. The Maryland Battalion lost two 
hundred men and twelve officers. Severe fate ! It is said 
our whole loss is five or six hundred. 

[Force, Aixhives, vol. i, 5th Series, fol. 1243.] 

[ jS t o. 45. ] 

Tiro Narratives of the battle of the 21th Aug. by Soldiers. 

New York, Thursday, August 29, 1776. 
On Monday, by express, and by several other messen- 
gers sinee, we hear an armed brig of the enemy, with two 
sloops and some smaller vessels, are in the Sound, near 
White-Stone, a little above Hell-Gate. 

Wednesday, in the afternoon, a great hail and rain-storm 
came on, attended with thunder and lightning; at which 
time the Ministerial Army attacked our lines on Long- 
Island, at three different places, with their utmost force ; 
but the intrepidity of the soldiers of the United States, 
joined with that vigour becoming a free people, repulsed 
them ; that they wore obliged immediately to retreat pre- 
cipitately, with great loss, the particulars of which we 


have not as yet been able to learn. At the same time, 
some of the British men-of-war made an attempt to come 
«P to the city, as they also did the day before, but the wind 
at both times entirely obstructed them; all their attempts 
we hope Heaven will still continue to render abortive. 

The great, the important day, big witli the fate of Ame- 
rica and liberty, seems to draw near. The British troops 
began to land on Long-Island last Thursday, nearly their 
whole force, supposed to be more than twenty thousand 
British and foreign troops. They marched through the 
small town of JS'cio Utrecht, in their way to Flatbush, another 
town about five miles from this city, near which they 
encamped, but were much harassed by our Liilemen. 
Scouting parties were sent from our Army to the adjoining 
woods, but were rather scanty in their numbers, consider- 
ing the extent of ground they had to guard. .The British 
forces, in three divisions, taking three different roads, and 
the advantage of the night, almost surrounded the whole 
of our out-parties, who, though encircled with more than 
treble their number, bravely fought their way through the 
enemy, killing great numbers of them, and brought off 
some prisoners. The New- York First Battalion behaved 
with great bravery. Lord Stirling's brigade sustained the 
hottest of the enemy's tire ; it consisted of Colonel 31ites's 
two battalions, Colonel Ailee's, Colonel Smalhcood's, and 
Colonel Hatch's regiments; they were all surrounded by 
the enemy, and had to faht their way through the blaze of 
their fire. They fought and fell like Romans. Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Parry, of the Pennsylvania Musketry, was 
shot through the head as he was giving orders to and ani- 
mating his men. The major part of Colonel Alice's and 
Colonel Piper's regiments are missing. Dr. Davis and his 
Mate were both taken prisoners as they were dressing a 
wounded person in the woods. Colonel Miles is miss- 
ing, (a truly amiable character,) and supposed to be slain. 


Generals Stirling and Sullivan are thought to be killed. 
General Parsons, with, seven men, came in yesterday morn- 
ing, much fatigued, being for ten hours in the utniosl 
danger of falling into the enemy's hands. Our killed, 
wounded, and missing, are imagined to be about one 
thousand; but," for our encouragement, the missing are 
hourly coming in. General Grant, of the British troops, 
from good intelligence, is among the killed; his hat, with 
his name on it, was found lying near the dead body; the 
bullet had gone through the hat, and carried some of his 
grey hairs with it. Thus fell the hero who boasted in the 
British House of Commons he would march through Ame- 
rica with five thousand men, having only marched five 
miles on Long-Island ', witn" an Army of more than four 
times the number. Our out-guards have retreated to the 
main body of the Army within the lines. The British 
Army have two encampments about a mile from our 
lines; and, by their manoeuvres 'tis plain they mean to 
attack us by surprise, and storm our intrenchments. Our 
nieiT^how the greatest bravery, and wish them to come to 
action. The firing continued yesterday all the day. 

On Tuesday twenty-two prisoners of the Regulars, 
among whom is a Captain, a Lieutenant, and an Ensign, 
were brought over; yesterday another, and the same day 
thirty-seven prisoners more were taken by one of our de- 
tached parties. On Tuesday, five or six ships stood almost 
within reach of our grand battery, but came to an anchor, 
and yesterday morning dropped down again to the fleet. 

The alarm was so great last Tuesday, (occasioned by the 
attack of the British troops,) the day appointed for fasting, 
humiliation, and prayer, in this State, for imploring Divine 
assistance in forming the New Government, that the 
churches were not opened, nor public worship performed. 

{American Archives, fol. 1212, vol. t, 5th Series.] 


New York, August 20, 1776. 

On Tuesday, August 20, a number of ships, with troops 
on board, sailed from the British fleet at Staten-Island, 
through the Nat-rows, and next day were followed by 
many more. Xext morning, the (22d,) a number of troops, 
supposed to be about ten thousand men, landed between 
New Utrecht and Gravesend on Long-Island. 

On Friday, an advanced party took possession of Flat- 
bush, where our people, having possession of the surround- 
ing heights, kept a continual, though irregular, fire upon 
•them, but at too great a distance to do much execution; 
however, some were killed and wounded on both sides; 
the enemy keeping up an almost constant lire upon our 
people from their mortars and field-pieces, loaded with 
grape-shot, &c. On Sunday, some of their men-of-war and 
transports got under sail, and it was supposed, were com- 
ing up; but it soon appeared they only went to cover the 
landing of more of their men on Long-Island, when great 
numbers of our men went over to strengthen our posts, 
and oppose the enemy. On Monday, it was observed that 
a large body of them, supposed to be near four thousand, 
were marching from their main body to their advanced 
posts. That night our people began to throw up intrench- 
ments on the highest hill near Flatbush, which would have 
commanded the town; but the enemy having the same 
night formed a design to gain possession of the hill, it is 
said, both parties met, and a smart engagement between 
them began about four in the morning, and continued, 
together with severe skirmishes between many detached 
parties, all Tuesday and Wednesday, during which many 
were killed, wounded, and taken prisoners on both sides, 
and several are missing. Who kept possession of the hill 
at Flatbush, where the Hag is still living, we have not 
heard, nor which party has upon the whole the advantage. 


Many of our wounded people have been brought orer. 
On Tuesday, twenty-two prisoners of the Regulars, amoii" 

whom is a Captain, a Lieutenant, and an Ensign, wore 
brought over; yesterday another, and the same day fifty- 
seven prisoners more were taken by one of our detached 
parties. The enemy attempted several times to force our 
lines, but were always repulsed with considerable slaugh- 
ter, notwithstanding their superiority in point of discipline, 
and an extended front. On Tuesday, five or six ships stood 
almost within reach of our strand battery, but came to an 
anchor, and yesterday morning dropped down again to the 

From the best accounts, we learn that the force of the 
Ministerial Arm}' at Staten and Long Islands is about twenty- 
three thousand five hundred men; marines unknown. 
The fleet consists of the following : Shins Asia and JEJaqle. 
of sixty-four guns, the Roebuck and Phoenix, of forty-four, 
one bomb, and about twenty frigates and sloops-of-war. 
They have also about three hundred sail of transports, 
storeships, and prizes. 

[Force, Archives, vol i, 5th Series, fol. 1213.] 

[ No. 46. ] 

Extracts from President Sides' Diary. 

Aug. 27. $ . . . Report by a Vessel that when she lefc X. 
York last Thursdy, an action was supposed to be begun 
as Fireing was heard at the AY. End of Long Island. The 
Rhode Island Gallics are returned to Newp* they left. N 
York on Wedn 7 last week, when it was said the Troops on 
Staten Isl d were striking their Tents. Much erroneous 


Aug. 20. i: . . . . We have a flying Report that the 
Kings Troops, 12.000, have landed at Long Island. . . . 



Aug. 31 v This afternoon we have certain Information 
by the Provid." paper eontainig~ Extracts from N York 
paper — that on Thursday 22 J Inst Gen" Howe landed Ten 
Thous d Kings Troops on L. Isd near Utrecht. .... 

Sept 2o In the Paper, X. York article 20 Aug 1 . " Tues- 
day last (Aug. 20.) a number of Ships w a Troops on. board 
sailed from Staten Isld out of the Narrows; next day they 
were followed by many more; and abot ten o'clock Thursdy 
(Aug. 22) morning about 10.000 (tenthous*) men landed between 
New Utrecht $ Gravcsend on L. Isld. Friday a party of 
them came k took possession of Flatbush, which inied 7 
bro't on a very hot fire from our Troops, who are advan- 
tageously posted in the Woods, k on every Eminence round 
that place. n 

Lett, dated K York, Aug. 25, 1776. 

"Yestordy I was at Flatbush — their advanced Guard 
of about 1000 Men, whom our Troops were continually 
fireing at, & they returng the complV . . . 

This day, Sept. 2 J about xi a. m. w r e received at Dighton 
the news of a grand Battle at New York on Long Isld. 
which is confirmed repeatedly this afternoon. ThisEveng" 
M r Adam P>abcock told me he this day at Dartmouth saw 
Cap t Coit ? who told him that last Saturday at Stonington 
he saw an Express from Gen Washington to Gov* Trinn- 
ble, which left K" York on Friday last, via Long Isld to 
H" London carried by the tide to Stonington. This Express 
told him, that on Thursday last (29 th Aug) a Petatclim 1 
of 2000 Kings Troops attacked us at Red Hook, £ were 
repulsed. Lhedy came on the same a general action be- 
tweenit was supposed, 18000 Kings Troops & 22,000 Ameri- 
can Troops on L. Isd; in which we lost many, as it was 
supposed 5000 — that we kept our Ground & that G. 
Washington was removed over upon L. Isld. From all 


which I collect that there lias been a very bloody Batth . 
The enemy were entrenching within Musquet shot of our 
Anny. The Good Lord support & sustain us in this trying 
Period! Mr. Babcock judges that not above 1G Thous J 
Connecticut Troops actually at X York. — That the lust 
marchg on the W. side Connecf River did not exceed 80« >0. 
He judges the whole American Arm}- at New York may 
be Fourty Thous d effective Meu. It is said most of the 
Men in the great Battle last Thursdy were New Engl ; 
Men. . . . 

Sept. 3. &. . . This Eveng~ a Newport paper of yesterday 
came to Town. In which is an Extract of a Lett, dated 

X York Aug. 19." A Deserter from the Enemy 

yesterdy says, that 5000 men are to attack Long laid, & 
the rest New York on Tuesday next. ..." 

Report this Even g~ that the Kings Troops carry all before 
them : have all Lomr Isld, and are attacks; N York City. 
Tory News. 

Sept. 4. s * A Newport man this day saw the post, which 
informed him that they had news at Providence, where 
the Assembly is now sitting, that our Loss in the Battle 
last Thursday, was about five hundred killed — another 
Acc° from Newport says 563 killed. Uncertain, hut pro- 
bable.- — The Newport Tories have sent abroad in the 
Country several ways a report briskly circulating, that the 
Ivings Troops have got all L. Isld & are besieging New York 

5. n. Set out for Ph. Isld. Mr. Fisher this day from 
Providence, brings certain Acc° that G. Washington had 
withdrawn our Troops -from Long Island and that Gen 
Sullivan & Gen Ld Stirling were taken by the Enemy. 
I lodged at D r Turners. 

Sept. 6. 9 Came to Newport. All in Sollicitudc about 
the Evacuation of L. Isld. Tories rejoyciug — Sons oi 
Liberty dejected 


7. i\ A Long- Isld man just from thence says, the West 
End sent a Comittee to Lcl Howe (of which his Brother 
was one) — and Ld Howe will not molest them if neuters or 
lay clown Arms, & he will pay for provisions. A number 
of Tories (say GOO) joyned the Kings Troops & took arms 
against us. Long Isld evacuated the night of 29th nit. 

. . . 9 © We have fought better on L. Isld than I feared — 
it is cursorily said we have lost 800 killed & taken. . . . 

10. £. Report that Ld Howe by Gen Sullivan oilers 
proposals to Congress — that America remain independent, 
that if G. Britain shall be aided with men from hence she 
shall pay us — that if we need assisf from thence, we shall 
pay them. — Incredible. Monday last AYeck the Enemy 
had not taken possession of our deserted Lines on L. Isd, 
but were encamped, say within one mile cf them — had 
not bombarded the City. 

11. $ ... . This day I conversed with Capt Sears of 
N" York the famous Patriot — he said, he came from X Y 
since the Evacn of L Isld: — that the first Lands; of the 
Regulars on L. Isld & Encamp 1 at Flatbush was but G000 
(tho' called 10,000 in the prints) : — that our Forces on L. 
Isld never exceeded seven Thousand — that we had 10,000 at 
Kiugs Bridge, 10,000 at the City, & 10,000 in the middle of 
the Isld of N York, & 12,000 on Jersey side: — that the 
Enemy did not attack Red Hook, that on the day of princi- 
pal Action, a I)ebark a was perceived but judged small, 
w T e little tho't of its being the main body: — that we 
attacked with about three thousand k fought well, but 
were surprized by findg ourselves flanked & interrupted 
by large bod}' of that days Landing. I observed that 
we had great Confidence in our Generals and their 
Arrang 4 of the Army; but it was a matter of inquiry, 
why we had so few forces on L. Isld, and why in the 
Battle it should have been said, the enemy exceeded us 
in numbers? He replied, that was known from the begin 5 


that if the main body of the Enemy landed on L.Jsld it 
would not be tenable by us; that if the body landed el 
where, we had Troops eno 1 to keep the Isld against a J), - 
tachment &c. 

Mr Hob* Stevens returngfrom Carolina was at X. York 
beging July, visited his.intimate Friend Gen Green at L. 
Isld — &. being told they had there but 5000 he asked the 
General the Reason, & the Gen told him, it was well 
known if the Enemy landed their main body there, the 
Isld was not tenable. Mr Stevens told me this to day. 

17. 6 Actions and Eattle on L0112; Isld N. 

York Aug* 20 &c. 

Collection of Accounts. 

"jSL York Aug 28. It is said the Enemy on L. Isld 
have been reinforced & are now supposed to be 20,000 
strong. Yesterday several Skirmishes happened between 
our Troops & theirs; but we cannot obtain any particular 
Acc°; all we can learn is, that we have taken .22 prisoners — 
belonging to the Marines, & Major Cudgjo, Comander of 
Ld Dunrnores black Regiment: Never did Troops behave 
with greater Courage <?• Resolution than ours did on the Occa- 
sion. They made several attacks on our Lines, but were re- 
pulsed with considerable Loss, &e" 

X York Aug. 28, 8 o'clock v. m. "This minute re- 
turned from our Lines on L. Isld, where I left his 
Excell 7 the General. From him I have it in coniand to 
inform Congress, that 3-estcrday he went there & continued 
till eveng~, when, from the enemy havg landed a consider- 
able part of their forces, many of their movements, there 
was reason to apprehend they would make in a little time 
a general attack. As they would have a "Wood to pass 
thro' before they could approach the Lines it was tho't 
exped 1 to place a number of men there on the different 
Bodes — . This being done, early Ihis morn 8 (Aug 27.) 


a smart Engagra* ensued between the Enemy & our Dc- 
tatchment w e being uncrjnalio the force they had to contend 
with sustained a pretty considerable Loss, at least many 
of our men are missing, among those that have notraturned 
are Gen SuUivan and Ld Stirling. — Our party bro* off a 
Lieu 1 Berg* & Corporal with 20' privates prisoners. While 
these Detatehm t were engaged, a column of the Enemy 
descended from the "Woods, & marched towds the Center 
of our Lines, with a Design to make an Impression, but 
were repulsed. This Eveng they appeared very numerous 
about the Skirts of the Wood, where they have pitched 
several Tents: — Today five Ships of the Line came up 
towards the Town &c — ; and on my Eeturn this eveng" I 
found a Deserter from the 23d Reg* who informed me 
that they design, as soon as the Wind will pmit them, 
to come up to give a severe Canouade & to silence our Bat- 
teries if possible." 

Long Islcl " Wednesday, daybreak. " I have the plea- 
sure to inform you I have survived a very warm Engag* 
yesterday (Tuesdy 27th Aug). Our Battalion has suffered 
much — we retreated thro' a very heavy Fire & escaped 
by swiming over a River or Creek rather; my height 
was of service to me as I touched almost all the way. 
Numbers of men got drowned — We are now all safe 
in our Lines and Forts. The affair yesterday teas only a 
Skirmish on the Isld, about three miles from our Works. The 
particulars, I cannot give you, but we were decoyed, & at 
once surrounded I am confident by ten thousd men. 

Another Letter Aug 27. 
" Yest J abo' 120 of our men went as a Guard to a place 
called Red Lyon on Long Isld. About eleven o' Clock at 
night (Aug. 26) the centries descried 2 men — our men fired 
upon them : the Enemy then retreated & about one o'clock 
(Aug. 27. mane) advanced with about 2 or 300 men, k 


endeavored to surround our Guard : but they being watch- 
ful gave them 2 or 3 fires & retreated to alarm the remain- 
der of the Battaliou, except 1 Lieu 1 & about 15 men who 
have not been heard of as yet. About four o'clock this 
morning the Alarm was given by beating to Arms ; when 
the remainder of our Battalion" (Col. Attle's Pensylv* 
Battal n ) accompanied by the Delaware & Maryld Batal- 
lions went to the place where our men retreated from. 
About a q r of a mile on this side, we saw the Enemy when 
We got into the Woods (our Batt n being the advanced 
Guard) amidst the incessant fire of their field pieces loaded 
with Grapeshot, which continued till ten o'clock. The 
Marylanders on their Left flank k we on their Bight kept 
up a constant lire amidst, all their canon, & saw several of 
them fall : but they being too many for us, we retreated a 
little & then made a stand. Our L* Col. Parry was shot 
thro' the head, & I was under a necess y of retreating with 
him to this place — since which. I have heard the enemy 
are within 600 yds of our Lines." — 

Lett. N. York Aug 27. 

" I sit down to write in the midst of Confusion to tell 
you that our pple have been engaged with the Enemy on 
L. Isld all this morning, — our men on the laid behave 
bravely. Heaven send them victory. 

" Thirty five minutes past Twelve noon. Firing still 
continues with Intermission. A man o' war comg up s d 
to be the Roebuck &c. 

"P. S. The first Batt d of N York Col Lashley and the 
Pensylv a S: Maryl d JBaialliom, behaved with the greatest 
Bravery even to a fault. They were comanded by Ld 
Stirling. — We forced the enemy into their Lines." 

Lett.N Y&rh Aug 28. 

Yesterdy proved a distressing one on L. Lid — great 
numbers killed on both sides. — The Generals Sullivan, 


Stirling & Parsons went out of the Lines too far k were 
all missing this morning, with many others. — On the 

whole I believe our Troops behaved with spirit and have 
not yet given way in their skirmishg to any equal number 
of the enemy" 

Lett. J\ r York Aug 30. 

"In a Council of War yesterday, it was determined that 
our Lines on Long Isld. were not tenable k therefore the 
Council concluded to evacuate them. Ld. Stirling k Gen 
Sullivan are prisoners. Gen. Howe allowed Gen Sullivan 
a Flag, by which he informed us of this k that he was 
politely treated/'' 

Lett. JS\ York, Aug'. 31. 

"You are no doubt surprized to hear of our sudden 
Retreat from L. Isld, but was thought absolutely essential 
from our Situation. We were under a necess 7 of march 8 
out k attackg them upon their own Ground, or sufterg 
ourselves to have been starved into a Surrender. First, 
because they were entrenching within' 500 yards of our 
Lines — and 2 dl - T because their Shipping might have ran up 
the E. Hirer $ cut off our Resources of provision & 
every other necessary. The Eetreat was conducted with 
the greatest Secresy & by six o'clock in the morng we had 
every Thing embarked. There never was a man that 
behaved better upon the Occasion than G. Wash 5 *, lie 
was on horseback the whole night, & never left the ferry 
stairs till he had seen the whole of his Troops embarked." 

Lett. N. York Sept. 1. 

" Last Monday Morng (Aug 26) we went over to Long 

Isld, and about midnight we were alarmed by the Return 

of some of our scouting parties, who advised us that the 

English were in motion & comg up the Isld with several 


Field piece?. It was generally that not to be the main body; 
but only a detatch* with a view to possess themselves 
some advantageous Heights. Upon which near Thr 
thousand men were ordered out, consisting chiefly of the 
Pensylv* & Maryld Troops to attack them on their march. 
About Sunrise we- came up with a very large Body of 
them. The Delaware & Maryl d Battalions made one party. 
Col. Atlee with his Battalion a little before us had taken 
post in an Orchard — and on the approach of the Enemy 
he gave them a very severe Fire, which he bravely kept up 
for a considerable Time, until they were near surrounding 
him when they retreated to the Woods. The Enemy then 
advanced towards us, upon which Ld Stirling, who comm- 
anded, irriediately drew up in a Line § offered them Battle in 
the true English Taste. The British Army then advanced with- 
in about 200 yards of us, and began a heavy fire from, their 
canon $ mortars, for both the Balls & Shells flew very 
fast, now & then taking off a head. Our men stood it 
amazingly well, not even one of them shewed a Disposi- 
tion to shrink. 

Our orders were not to fire until the Enemy came within 
fifty yards of us, hut when they perceived we stood their fire 
so cooly £ resolutely they declined coming any nearer, altho' 
treble our number. In this situation we stood from sunrise to 
Ticelve o'clock, the Enemy firing upon us the chief part of 
the time, when the main Body of their Army, by a Tvout we 
never dreamed of, had intirely surrounded us, & drove 
within the Lines, or scattered in the }Xood.s all our men, 
except the Delaware <f MAhyl d Battalions, who were stand- 
ing at Bay with double their Number. Thus situated we 
were ordered to attempt a Retreat bjjightg our Way thro' 
the Enemy, who had posted themselves & nearly fitted Every 
FiJd <f Road between us <f our Lines. We had not rc- 
treated a cpaarter of a mile before v. e were tired upon by an 
advanced party of the Enemy, & those upon our Rear were 


playing upon us with their Artillery. Our men fought 
with more than Roman Virtue, and I am convinced would 
have stood until they were shot down to a man. We 
found the advanced party, which first attacked us, to give 
way, thro' which opening we got a passage down to the side 
of a Marsh, seldom before waded over, ivhich we -passed k 
then swam a narrow River ; cdl the time exposed to the fire of 
the Enemy. The companies comanded by Captains Ramsay 
& Scott were in the front and sustained the first lire of the 
Enemy, when hardly a man fell. 

The whole of the right wing of our Batalion thinkg it 
impossible to pass thro' the Marsh, attempted to force 
their way thro' the Woods, where they were almost to a 
man killed or taken. The Maryld Battallion has lost Tu:o 
hundred and fifty nine men, among whom are 12, officers — 
who of them are killed, or who are prisoners is yet uncer- 
tain. Many of the Officers lost their Swords k Guns. 
"We since intirely abandoned Long Isld, bringing off all 
our Military Stores. Generals Sullivan $ Stirling are both 
prisoners. Col. Atlee, Miles & Piper are also taken. 
There are about 1000 Men missing in all. We took a few 
Prisoners. By a Lieutenant we took, we understand 
they had about 23,000 men on the Isld that morning. 
Most of our Generals were on a high Hill in our Linos 
viewing us with Gfasses. When we began our Eetreat, 
they could see the Enemy we had to pass thro\ tho' ice could not. 
Many of them tho't we would surrender in a body, without 
firing. When we began the attack, Gen Washington — 
cried out, Good God! what brave Fellows I must this day 
lose! Major Guest comanded the Maryld Batallion, the 
Col & L* Col° being both at New Yo.rk. Captains Adams 
and Lucas were sick. The Major, Capt Ramsey, k L* 
Plunket were foremost «J- within four ty yds of the Enemy s Muz- 
zels when they were fired upon by the Enemy, who were 
chiefly under Cover of an Orchard, save a fe\\ r that shewed 


themselves, & pretended to give up, clubbing their Fire- 
locks until we came within that Distance, when they irriedv 
presented & blazed in our faces; they intirely overshot ua 
& killed some men away behind in the rear. I had the 
Satisfaction of dropping one of them the first fire I made. 
I was so near I could not miss. I discharged my Ritle 
seven times that day as deliberately as ever I did at a 
Mark & with as little Perturbation." 

This is the best account I have seen All these letters 
sent to Philad* & published there. 

Prints N Fori- Article Aug. 29. 

"Yv r ednesdy in the afternoon (28 Aug.), a great hail k 
rain storm came on, attended with Thunder k Lightg at 
which Time the ministerial Army attached our Lines on L. 
Isld at three different places with their utmost force. But 
the intrepidity of the Soldiers of the United States, joyned 
with that Vigour becomg a free pple, repulsed them; that 
they were obliged imedy to retreat precipitately with great 
Loss: the particulars of w c we have not as yet been able 
to learn. At the same time some of the British Men of 
War made an attempt to come up to the City, as they 
also did the day before, but the Wind at both Times 
intirely obstructed them — The British Troops began to 
land on L. Isld last Thursdy (22 xVug), nearly their whole 
Force, supposed to be more than 20,000 British & foreign 
Troops. They marched thro' the small Town of Utrecht, 
in their Way to Flatbush, another T° about five Miles from 
this City, near which they encamped, but were much 
harrassed by our Riflemen. Scanty parties were sent from 
our army to the adjoyning Woods, but icere rather scanty in 
their members, considg the Extent of Ground they had to 
guard. The British Forces in three Divisions, taking three 
different Bodes & the Advant" of the Kight, almost sur- 
rounded the wholeofour Out-parties, who, tho' encircled with 


more than treble their number, bravely fought their "Way 
thro' the Enemy, Killing great numbers of them & bro't 
oft' some prisoners. The N York first Battalion behaved 
with great Bravery. Ld Slirlings Brigade sustained the 
hottest of the Enemys Fire, it consisted of Col. Miles's two 
Battalions, Col. Atlee's, Col. Smallwoods, & Col. Hatch's 
Regiments: they were all surrounded by the Enemy, & 
had to tight their way thro' the Blaze of their fire — 
they fought and fell like Romans! — IA Col. Barry of 
the Pensylv 8 Musquetry was shot thro' the head, as he 
was giving orders to & animatg the men. The major part 
of Col. Atlces & Col. Piper's Beg* 8 are missing. D rs 
Davis & Mate were both taken prisoners as they were 
dressg a wounded pson in the Woods. Col. Miles is miss- 
ing (a truly amiable Character) & supposed to be slain. 
Generals Stirling & Sullivan are tho't to be killed. General 
Parsons, with seven Men came in yesterday (28 t ' (1 ) morning 
much fatigued being for ten hours in the utmost Danger 
of falling into the Enemies hands. Our killed wounded <f 
missing are imagined to be about 1000 ; but for our Encourag 4 
the missing arc hourly coming in. General Grant of the 
British Troops, from good Intelligence is among the killed ; 
his Hat with his name on it was found lying near the dead 
Body: the Bullet had wne thro' the Hat & carried some 
of his grey hairs with it. Thus fell the Hero, who boasted 
in the British House of Conlons, he would march' Ame- 
rica with five Thous' 1 men, having marched only five miles on L. 
Isld with an Army of more than four times the number. Our 
out-guards have -retreated to the main body of the Army 21: i thin 
the Lines. The British Army have two encampm'* about a 
mile from our Lines & by their Manoeuvres, tis plain they 
mean to attack us by surprise, & storm our entrenchments. 
Cur men shew the greatest Bravery, & wish them 10 come 
to action. The Firing continued yest y (28) all day. 


On Tuesday (27) twenty-two prisoners of the Regulars, 
among whom is a Cap', a L*, & an Ensign, were brot over. 

Yesterday (28) another, & the same day thirty seven pri- 
soners more were taken by one of our detatched parties. 
On Tuesdy (27) 5 or six ships stood almost within reach 
of our Grand Battery but came to an anchor, & yest y morn:: 
dropt down again to the fleet. 

The Alarm was so great last Tuesdy (27) occasioned by 
the attack of the British Troops) the day appointed for Fast- 
ing, Humiliation k prayer in this State (X York) in forming 
the new Governm' that the Churches icerc not opened nor 
public Worship performed." 

End of N York Article. 
" Col. Grant & a number of other Officers of the Enemy 
were Killed. Gen Sullivan is wounded in the Leg, & a 
prisoner; Brigadier Geii Ld Stirling is missing, & Brig r 
Geii Parsons was surrounded in a swamp & narrowly 
escaped." Lett F Y. 29. Aug*, 

jSTo Paper printed at X York since 29 Aug*. 
The Gen Congress have ordered three Posts every Week 
thro' the Continent — to ride night & day — a Eider for 
every 25 or 30 miles. 

In Congress 30 Aug 1 1776. 

From the preceding Accounts respecting the Transac- 
tions on Long Isld, I collect, 1. That the Kings Troops 
began landing there 22 & 23 of Aug', and by 27th had their 
main body landed, perhaps 15 or 1C Thous d (tho' it is sd 
20 Th.) for they must have left one Third of their Army 
at Staten Isld. 2. That on the Morning of Tuesday 27th 
Aug 1 being on Fast-day, we sent out phps 3 or 4000 at 
most, as out-guards & advanced parties to harrass & ob- 
struct the Enemy's Approaches, & so to retreat within the 
Lines. 3. That they when out meditated a Field light 
(contrary to the primary Design) and a part of them boldly 
cast themselves into that form arranging our line- .of 


Battle accordingly ; & that the Enemy ranged their Line 
of Battle 300 yds from ours. 4. That in this manner we 
stood for six hours till Xoon, without giving our fire & yet 
receivg the canonade of the Enemy's Artillery. 5. That 
previous to this one of our Regiments had a warm Action 
in the Woods k behaved well. G. That the Enemy out- 
p'cneralled us bv a covert March of one of their 3 columns 
so as to encircle k surround our main body, which had 
hitherto stood ready for action but hitherto without fight- 
ing. 7. That thereupon, instead of surrendering our men 
fought their "Way thro' heroically and valiantly, so that 
about three Quarters got home to the lines • — for subse- 
quent Account make our missing 7 or 800. Again, 8. 
While we lost two Generals taken, the Enemy had one 
General Killed the infamous 8?P Grant. It is said h 


te was 

slain by our Gen Parsons. This the state of the Ac- 
tions Tuesday — the Enemy having succeeded to drive us 
within our Entrenchments — This the Enemy undoubtedly 
consider as a great Victory. But 9. On Wednesdy 28th 
Aug 4 , the Enemy met with a Repulse at our Lines, very 
heavy k discouraging : and as to Loss on their side very 
great & far beyond ours on the 27th. Fame says 2000 — 
suppose 3 or 400 Killed. On the 29th indeed we evacu- 
ated L Isld — but on the whole, we may be satisfied — at 
least not so mortified as if we had been driven off thro' 
Cowardice k without s:ood fighting. We may conjecture 
the Position of the Armies Tuesdy noon, thus 

: : : : The : : Kings : : Army : : 

'I: \ 

Gen. Grant' 

O • 

Lord Stirling 

Gen. Parsons 

Gen Sullivan 

: N Tors : : Mautla^ders : : 

Delawa b e : 


Col. Hatch Col. Small: Col. Atlee's 

Col. Mihs. 


Undoubtedly this Exemplar is not exact. But there 

were three Regiments & 3 Battalions, equal to six Battalions 
of, say, 500 effective men each: making a Corps of about 
three Thousand — a proper & suitable Body to rcconoitre 
and harrass, but not give pitched Battle to Ten or 15 

Oct. 14. . . . Major Lamb of K York, is just return ed 
from his Captivity at " Quebec where he was taken when 
Geii Montgom* was slain. I saw him at Stratford. He 
lay on board ship at 1ST. Y. some Time. He tells me the 
regulars said on board his ship, they had lost four hundred 
killed on L. lsld besides wounded; which agrees with Ld 
Howes say that he had lost Eighteen hundred brave Men 
there — for if 400 were killed, 1800 were damaged. . . . 

Nov. 4. . . . Account of Action on Long lsld Aug*. 
last, from a Spectator in a Lett, dated Sept. 14, 1776. 

u On 23 d of Aug 1 before day the Euemy began to land a 
Body of Troops at Utretch. The morng was foggy. 
They were discov d to be still landg after sunrise. By abot 
two o'clock they reached Flat Bush, where they were met 
by a Body of our pple who skirmished with them to 
advantage. After that we kept a Picket Guard of fifteen 
hundred men between Flat Bush and Brockland in the 
Woods and on Eminences, who were continually skirmishg 
with the enemy — ^rom the southermost part of the Bay 
below Bush wick in a Line drawn fi. 9 strait on a little to 
the left of 7, down to the creek running up to & by 
Brockland, were our Lines & Forts by w c we had enclosed 
a Tract of Land to the Westward next to K. York. — 
Our Lines fronted the East. On the Left near the lowest 
part of the above described bay was Fort Putnam, near the 
middle Ft. Green, & towds the creek F* Box ; the whole 
were composed of Forts, Redoubts, Breast-works &c. 

Vide Browns Atlas. 


On Monday Night about five thousand of the Enemy, 
with fifty or C>0 Light horse, riled oil' to the right up to 
Bushewick, crossing the Land & mak s a circuit to avoid 
our advanced posts, with a Design of falling upon our 
Left. We had made the Eodes leading to our Lines from the 
diff c adjacent T 08 . quite inconvenient or unsafe. A. heavy 
Detatchment marched on Tucscbj w.orng before day from the 
Narrows to attack our advanced Guards on that Quarter, & 
on com 2 up with began to engage them. On that Ld 
Stirling went off with about twelve hundred men to support them. 
Ere he arrived the Enemy Landed a Body of about three 
ThouJf 1 in the small Bay just below the mouth of the Creek; 
w- obliged him to form his men into two Lines, meeting in 
an obtuse Angle, one stretching up to the Creek between the 
Regulars <J* Brockland, the other leading away from that 
where it formed the Angle towards Flat Bush & was 
joy ned by a number of the picket Guard. Ld. Stirling 
began to Engage the Enemy a little after sunrise. About '2 
hours after that, between ix & x, the five Thous' 1 that had 
marched all night, and taken a circuit to JBashwiek, fell upon 
the Rear of our North Rode picket Guard under Gen Par- 
sons, w c occasioned another Body of our Men under Gen 
Sullivan to advance that way with a View of supportg 
them. A great part of the ~N° Bode Picket Guard fought 
their Way down to the Creek. The Hessians marched over 
the Flatbush Plains &, formed a middle Line in such a 
Direction as to prevent G. Sullivans getting into our Lines 
in the usual Way ; and his men were therefore obliged to 
cross the Creek at the upper part, next to a Mill Bam. Ld. 
Stirlings Men after having fought a long while forded the 
mouth of the Creek next to the Bay; # when the five Thous d 
had got down to the right of our Lines next to the Creek, 
they made an attack but were repulsed. The Line between 
Box fort iV the Creek was not compleated the d:iy before. 
There was an opening adjoyning to the Creek, w* it was tho't 


the Enemy was acquainted with ; for when they came to it, & 
fennel the Entrance closed with a Breastwork & other De- 
fences, they appeared confounded, however they made the 
attack with one party ', and then with another, supposed with a 
view chiefly of carrying off the dead & wounded under cover 
of the lire: ourpple found afterwards about a hundred packs. 
My Informer rode down to the Troops in this part of the 
Line with a message from an Officer more to the left who 
saw the movement of the Enemy, intimatg his apprehen- 
sion that they would be attackt, & they were in immediate 
Readiness. The Enemy proposg to cut off <fc and make 
Prisoners as many of our men as possible, pressed hard 
upon them ; we had great numbers in a salt marsh near 
the Creek, who were "fired upon without having more than 
one killed. The Enemy's Eire did but little Execution, 
the Balls flying generally over the heads of our pple. 
Several of our men havg no chance of escaping otherwise 
betook themselves to the Woods, & afterwards came in. 
When the Engag* began our Lines were thinly mann'd but 
some Res:ini t3 being called in & others bro't over from 
York, there was a sufficient number before an Attack 
could be made. All our Troops, to whatever Colony belonging, 
behaved admirably well ; & I apprehend have given such 
Specimens of true Bravery, as will if possible be a stronger 
proof of our real Courage, than Breed's (generally mis- 
called Bunkers) Hill Engagement. Gen Sullivan & Ld 
Stirling were taken Prisoners. General (the noted Colonel 
who reprobated the Americans as not having a single 
Quality of the good Soldier) Grant, and Gen. [Jones] were 
killed on the part of the Enemy. We lost, six field pieces 
includg 2 llowitz; Our Artill 7 men behaved heroically. 
(Eour Southern Reg u suffered a large Body of the Enemy 
to advance upon them till within about thirty yards, owing 
to their having their Eirelocks club'd. Upon their being 
told that if they came forward they -sir 1 be Jired upon, & 


being required to declare their design, they presented & fired 
as soon as possible ; our pple returned it & kept up such a 

lire as obliged them to fall back] Gen. Howes plan seems 
to have been well laid. Apprehend that he was in hopes 
of drawg out the Body of our troops from the Lines, by 
attack 3 our Picket Guards in the neighborhood of Flat- 
bush, &tjiat being done, to get, into our Lines by means 
of the 5000 he marched to Bush wick ; or of surroun- k over- 
powerg those that were out of the Lines, slid he not suc- 
eede to the utmost of his Wishes. An Assailant with a 
superior force, as was the case with Howe, has greatly the 
Advantage, being master of his own plan, whereas the 
opposing party must act wholly conjectu rally in defend 5 
themselves k resist 5 the Enemy. Notwithstandg which, 
the Besolution & Prudence of the Provincials baffled the 
European Generals, & tho' the kind interposition of Heaven 
blasted their intended triumph over the Yankees. 

On Wedncsdi/ in a heavy shower of Pain the Enemy 
attackt our Lines between Ft. Putnam cj- F l Green; our men 
w r ere directed & readily complied, to lie noon the ground 
with their bodies over their Firelocks, so that the Enemy 
got repulsed. 

His Excell 7 Gen. Washington observg a movnf in the 
Fleet k suspectg that there was a design of euttg oil' the 
coriiunic* with the City, without w c our forces could not be 
supported many days, & considg that on the Land side we 
were shut in within our Lines, most wisely concluded upon 
eoacuatmg thelsld: He concealed his Intention while he 
got the Boats &c ready, and on the Thursday was over 
with them in the Eveng about seven o'clock. The Bri- 
gades were ordered to be in Peadiness with Bag & Bag- 
gage to march at such a Time, but Knew not for where or 
what; the second did not know where the first was gone, 
nor the third the second; the last marched off at the firing 
of the three o'clock Gun on Friday morning. Providence 


favoured us. The night was remarkably still: the Water 
was as smooth as Glass, so that all our Boats went ov< 
saje tho' many of them were but about three Inches out 
of Water. At (v) rise a g* fog came up. The Enemy did 
not discover that we had evacuated our Lines, till we were 
all over. — 

Governors Isld was evacuated at the same time. AVc 
left behind upon both Jslds about half a dozen large Guns. 
Three or 4 men are missing who came off in a Batteau. 
This evacu* is a masterpiece, vasty sup r to Howes Conduct 
when he evacuated Boston. One or other Brother (it may 
he both) has candor cno' to own that it will make a figure 
in History. The Killed, wounded $ missg fr. the Returns 
made last Tuesday sen' night fall short of five hundred. 
Most of the missing arc prisoners. We have heard of some 
getting to the E. End of L. Isld & fr thence crossing the 
sound, so that the number will be reduced to little more 
than 400. The Enemys Loss is s d to be from a Thous d 
to two Thous d . [Have been told that their killed amount 
to more than five hundred,, which is not to be wondered at 
considg that all ours are Marksmen; & if so their killed k 
wounded must be far towds 2000.] On fridy or Sat 7 
(the first my Informer thinks) a K°. of Ships came up to 
the place, w c it was tho't they meant to occupy in order to 
cut off the comunication. May we not savin the Lang" of 
the Sacred Writers, our sold is escaped as a Bird out of snare 
fee. AVe are bound to, & I trust shall always honor the 
Instruments : but as it is the Inspir* of the M. High that 
giveth Understg, let Gd have the chief Glory. Our People 
were about Twelve Thous d when they left the Islands; the 
Enemy was thought about Eighteen " End of the Letter 

In the beginn g of it — " The chief & best of my Inform* 
I rec d yest y morfi* fr. a Brother by Profession who was 
upon the Isld most of the Sumer, Knows all the Ground 
in the ISTeighbourhood of the Fortiiications, was on Horse- 


hack within our Lines, with a Glass £ his naked Eye saw most 
of (he proceedings, & heard hundreds of the Enemy s shot fly 
over his head. What is not jr. him & that lie could not 
confirm, tho' he did not deny, I shall enclose in crotchets." 
Xov. 27 . . Cap* Dennis a Captive from Halifax, which 
he left about End of Octf-says, the Officers on board con- 
sidered their Loss at attack" our Lines on L. Island in 
Aug fc last by Gen Howes Returns at 330 Killed of the 
Kings Troops, and wounded uncertain : that an Eng or 
Scotch but .British Baronet who came over as a Traveller 
& was a Spectator of the Action, declared in Halifax, the 
Kings loss was much greater than G. Howes returns, so as 
to excite some stir there. . . . 

[Manuscript Diary of Rev. Ezra Stiles, D. D., in possession of Yale College. J 

[ JS T o. 47. ] • 

Narrative of May. A braham Leggeit. 

... I agreed to Go on to Pokipsey and do work on the 
Two Frigates that was to be Built there by order of the Con- 
tinal Congress then sitting In Philadelphia on the first of 
Febru'ry, 177G, several that was Engaged and walk"d to 
Pokipsey 83 miles — there I was engadg'd Till the first 
July. I then with several others Formed ourselves in a com- 
pany under the command of Barnardus Swartout all Vollen- 
teers — the Times began to appear Vary Interesting — the 
British Fleet and large army was at Statten Island —we 
marclrd off in High Spirrits Till we Got to the Calder- 
barrack near the Croton River-— there we Staid but three 
Days for Defection — we then had news that English army 
was Preparing to land on Long Island — that they Easy 
effected under The Protection of Sniping— our army was 


at this Time on Brooklin Ilights 1 fortifying as fast as they 
could — the Enemy advanced upon Part of our army under 
the com 'd of Lord Sterling and General Sullivan — they 
Faught on the Retreat to flat Bush Hills. There the 
battle became Very Hot but the Enemy was too Powerful — 
they extended there write wing so as to Cut off the Retreat 
of our detachment from the main army which they suc- 
ceeded in and they Eill'd and Captured many, amongst them 
was several officers and Two Gen" Is — many was drownded in 
the mill Pond. This took Place 28th august 1776 — the 
next day the 29, Capt. Swartout crowsed with us to the 
Island and we was Placed on the Left from, the Hill call'd 
Port Green to Wallabout — the Two armies close in View 
of Each other, and for three Days the Pain fell in Torrents 
so that we could not Cook — then was the first Time .1 was 
Brought to Eat Raw Pork — the last night we was on the 
Island myself and Several of Volunteers was Put on ad- 
vanced Centres with speshel orders IIow T to behave Should 
we discover the Enemy advancing- — the night was Fogey 
& Very Park. Some circumstance made all the Centres 
Return on the lines but myself — my Remaining at my 
Station was Imputed to Bravery. Early in the morning yet 
Very Dark we was Paraded under the Report that we was to 
attack the Enemy in there lines we was Led around we 
new not where till I saw the old Stone Church of Brook- 
lin — then an officer Riding by Says, a'Groce mistake — ■ 
we was orded to wheel about and Reman the lines, wich 
we did — a dangerous attempt — There we Remaned Till 
Some Time after — we' then formed the Rear Gard we was 
ordcrd forward, still expected to meet the enemy Till we 
found ourselves at the Ferry and the army all cross'd But 
the Gard then under the Command of Gen'l Mifflin — 
we then was order'd to Choak up the Street with waggons 

1 A battery of eight guns was constructed he 


and carts to Prevent the Light Horse from Hushing Down 
upon us — at this time no boats — I Prepar'dmyselfto Swim 
the River flood tide But Fortunately Two Battoes Struck 

the Shore — by this Time there was but a few of us left — 
we all Hurred on Board and Shoved oif — the Enemy 
Bush'd Down on the Hill and Commenced a Brisk lire. 
Fortunately no one was Hurt in our Boat — the other 
Boat had four wounded — we licmaned in the Town 
Two days then our Capt. march' d us up the Island 
to near King's Bridge — after our army had all Oross'd 
the Enemy was Preparing for Further operations. Two 
Frigates came threw the Buttermilk Channel and came 
to anchor oil' Turkel & Kips Bay to cover the land- 
ing of there armv from Long Island — at this Time our 
Troops was Retreating up York Island — the Enemy ad- 
vancing till Harlem Hills — there our Troops Gave Battle — 
the Battle was Severe for a Time. . . . 

[Printed from the original manuscript with Introduction and Notes by 
Charles I. BushnelL] 

[ No. AS. ] 

Statement of Bezekieih MunselL 

In the month of July . . . we were ordered over to Long 
Island, where we were quartered more than a 'month, dur- 
ing which the troops suffered much from sickness 

Our company was divided, so that one hall" 

would £0 from the barracks at Brooklyn, to Flatbush 
to keep garrison one day, and the next day the other half 
would come to relieve them. "We were daily expecting 
that we should be annoyed by the enemy. Some one of 
our company went every day to get milk for the sick sol- 


clicrs at an old Dutchman's. About the time the enemy 

began to laud on the island, I went on the errand myself 
when the old Dutchman remarked that there would bo 
" tousands and tousands of 'em." 

On the morning of the battle on Long Island, the sol- 
diers were busily employed in throwing up a breast- work, 
and in cutting and drawing into a line before the breast- 
work, a row of apple trees, the brush turned from us. I 
worked on the breastwork, and drawing in the trees. 
Col. Hart had command of our regiment at the time, Col. 
Gay being sick in IsTew York, where he died. 

We were now all prepared for an engagement with the 
enemy. It has been said by some that General Washing- 
ton never. left his saddle during the day; but I saw him 
walk along the lines and give his orders in person to the 
colonels of each regiment. I heard him give orders to 
Col. Hart, which were much like the following: "If the 
enemy come to attack us, let them approach within twenty 
yards before you tire." It was thought to be a stratagem 
of the enemy to draw our fire, and then force us from the 
entrenchment; but Washington was too old for them. 
I also heard Washington say: "If I see any man turn his 
back to-day I will shoot him through ; I have two pistols 
loaded ; but I will not ask any man to go further than I 
do; I will fight so long as I have a leg or an arm." This 
is but a scrap of what the brave Washington said on that 
occasion. He said the time had come when Americans 
must be freemen or slaves : quit yourselves like men, like 
soldiers; for all that is worth living for is at stake. 

During the day of the Long Island battle, on the right 
wing where I was stationed, there was but little firing. 
The position which we held at the time was near a tide- 
m ili — the yellow mill. While Washington was giving 
his orders to our colonel, there was in the pond, where this 
mill stood, a man who was attempting to escape from the 


enemy, an inhabitant of the island probably, who was stuck 
in the nmd. Some proposed to go and help him. "Wash- 
ington said no, knowing that they would be in the same 
predicament, and thus liable to be taken by the enemy. 
What became of the poor fellow I never knew. 

I did not see the British on the day of this battle ; the 
ground was such, and a grove intervening, as to cut off 
the prospect. I was not personally knowing to anything 
more relating to the battle, of any interest, but what is 
generally known. On the night we retreated I was just 
relieved from the breast-work, when I heard an officer 
remark that we were going to retreat. The next person I 
heard speak of it was Gen. Putnam, when we were on the 
march. He then spoke, I thought imprudently, for some 
one might have carried his report to the enemy. We left 
the island for j\ T ew York between eight and nine o'clock 
in the evening. The retreat was conducted without any 
difficulty. When the morning came I went to the grand 
battery, and looking over to the [Long] island, saw two of 
our men plunge into the water, and swim to get away 
from the British. The enemy fired at them, but they 
swam till our boats picked them up. I don't know as any 
of our men were lost on the island by being left. 

[Stiles, Ancient Windsor, page 714.] 

[ IS T o. 49. ] 

Recollections of the Revolution on Long Island. 
"Having been myself much gratified by perusing de- 
tached narratives of important events which occurred 
during our revolutionary struggle, and which the historian 
passes over in gross, I am induced to submit the following, 


thinking it may interest some of your readers, coming ;i , 
it docs from an eye witness of the scenes. 

"]S r o period in our struggle, probably, was more critic;. 1 
than the year 177G, and no part of that year more so, tbau 
when our army was posted on Long Island in the month 
of August. I was there, at the age of twenty-three, had 
been attached to the Army from a few days after the bat- 
tle of Lexington, and was present during the whole time 
of our occupying the post on the Island. Gen. Washington 
was himself there with the flower of the army. Gen. Howe 
was at the head of the British troops, and it is well known 
that the enemy had never concentrated a more numerous 
and better appointed army than was brought together at 
that time and place. 

"It was on the 22 d day of August that the enemy landed 
a large body of troops on the south west point of 'the Island 
and moved to the village of Flatbush, -Rye or six miles from 
Brooklyn Ferry. A detachment of our army, consisting 
of 2-100, was sent to meet them. This body was posted 
so as to occupy the only three passes through the hill- 
between Flatbush and Brooklyn, where the enemy would 
probably attempt to force their way. The}' occupied the 
plain southward, and their advanced guards were so near 
ours that they reached us with their German rifles. Tin 1 } 
also annoyed us with grape shot from their field pieces. 
The soldier knows that when the smoke from the muzzle 
and vent of a gun, are seen in the same line with himself, 
the piece is aimed at him. In such circumstances at this 
time, I remember that I stepped behind a tree to avoid 
.the shot discharged from one of their pieces. When the 
grape had passed I perceived that one of them had struck 
the tree behind which I stood. These being the only 
passes by winch the enemy could approach directly, and 
as our force, so posted, was viewed sufficient to defend 
them, both bodies remained in that position, till the night 


of the 26th. I well remember that all the former part of 
the night their front guards appeared very active, 1 fre- 
quently passing and repassing between us and their fires, 
doubtless to attract our attention and serve as a cover for 
their main object; for at dark they pushed a large body from 
their right, and by a forced march all night by the Bedford 
road, came in the rear of our troops just at day break,'- 1 and 
the first we knew of it was by their firing on our out guards. 
Just before this attack, their troops which remained at the 
first post [in the village of Matbush] commenced an attack 
on our front, which had completely drawn our attention. 
They w^ere soon repulsed, but when it was perceived that 
our flank had been turned, a retreat was ordered: and here 
commenced a scene most disastrous to us. Those from 
the three posts retreating separately, were met by the 
enemy in solid body, and thus were driven back alter- 
nately on either body of the enemy's forces. During the 
night another strong body of the enemy had landed, which 
moved and joined the first assailants. Our troops were 
now hemmed in, except 700 or 800 (of which the writer 
w T as one) who made their way, through our to main body. 
The remainder, composed principally of Huntington's and 
Smallwood's regiment, with a number of the flying troops, 
making about 1000, rallied and were formed on advanta- 

CD / 

geous ground under the command of Brigadier Gen. Lord 
Stirling as officer of the day, and sustained the attack of 
the enemy with the utmost firmness, repulsing them and 
making a number of prisoners. But the enemy's main 
body coming up to the combat, and our troops seeing it in 
vain to make further resistance, surrendered. We being 

'As the only part of the American lines from which the enemy could be 
seen was at Valley Grove, it was near this place tJiat the writer was stationed. 

3 The writer errs in supposing that the enemy's flanking movement and 
his assault were simultaneous. The latter did not take place until nine 



called rebels, the most barbarous treatment was inflicted 
by the enemy. Capt Jewett, of Huntington's regiment 
an officer much respected and beloved, of elegrnt and 
commanding appearance and of unquestionable bravery, 
was murdered in cold blood. Having surrendered his 
sword when demanded, the officer on receiving it instantly 
plunged it through his body. Our wounded were mostly 
put to death by the bayonet. An [American] Soldier near 
me fired on one of those murderers and brought him down ; 
leaving his own black gun, he seized the brighter one of 
him who fell, the bayonet of which I perceived was bloody 
more than half its length. 

"No one unused to such scenes can form any just idea 
of the confusion and vicissitudes of that day. In the flight 
of those who broke through, numbers plunged themselves 
into a mill-pond which intercepted them, rather than fall 
into the hands of the enemy. These were either drowned 
or shot. The loss on our side was supposed to exceed 
1,000, including the slain and captured. As there was 
no account of the wounded, they were probably all dis- 
patched who fell into the enemy's hands. Those of the 
advanced body who escaped joined their regiment, and the 
main body formed on a snell of ground at Brooklyn, 
facing the enemy, and behind a small body of earth hastily 
thrown up and rails placed on end, as at Bunkers Hill. 
Between nine and ten in the morning, the enemy's main 
body appeared. The front column advanced within about 
20 or 30 rods of the centre of our line, their flanks firing 
on our right. Gen. Washington rode slowly past the 
whole of our rear, encouraging the troops. When passing 
the place where I was posted, he said in an animating 
one, (I recollect distinctly his words), 'Remember what 
you are contending •for. 1 The enemy, instead of com- 
mencing the attack, as was momentarily expected, moved 
by the right behind a snell of ground and were soon out 


sight This unexpected movement of the enemy, owing 
to the extreme caution of Gen. Howe, who remembered 
Bunko;; Hill, gave to our army the opportunity of effecting 
the memorable retreat of the 29th. , 

" The state of our army on the day and until the night 
of the 29th when the retreat from the Island took place, 
is justly detailed by the historian ; but I have never read 
any history of the day of the 29th, where the incidents 
which took place are detailed with accuracy." 

[From the Vermont Chronicle of January 14th, 1832.] 

[ Xo. 60.] 

Extract from the Narrative of James Sullivan Martin, [pp. 


I remained in New- York two or three months, in which 
time several things occurred, but so trifling that I shall 
not mention them ; when, sometime in the latter part of 
August, I was ordered upon a fatigue party; we had 
scarcely reached the grand parade, when I saw our ser- 
geant-major directing his course up Broadway, toward us, 
in rather an unusual step for him; he soon arrived and 
informed us ; and then the commanding officer of the party, 
that he had orders to take off all belonging to our regi- 
ment and march us to our quarters, as the regiment was 
ordered to Long-Island, the British having landed in force 
there. Although this was not unexpected to me, yet it 
£ave me rather a disagreeable feeling, as I was pretty well 
assured I should have to snuff a little gunpowder. How- 
ever I kept my cogitations to myself, went to my quarters, 
packed up my clothes, and got myself in readiness for the 
expedition as soon as possible. I then went to the top of 
the house where I had a full view of that part of the 


Island; I distinctly saw the smoke of the field-artillery 

but the distance and the unfavorableness of the wind jar- 
vented my hearing their report, at least but faintly, The 
horrors of battle there presented themselves to my mind 
in all their hideousness ; I must come to it now, thought 
I, — well, I will endeavor to do my duty as well as I am 
able and leave the event with Providence. We were soon 
ordered to our regimental parade, from which, as soon as 
the regiment was formed, we were marched oli* for the 
ferry. At the lower end of the street were placed several 
casks of sea-bread, made, I believe, of cauel and peas- 
meal, nearly hard enough for musket flints; the casks 
were unheaded and each man was allowed to take as many 
as he could, as he marched by. As my good luck would 
have it, there was a momentary halt made ; I improved 
the opportunity thus offered me, as every good soldier 
should upon all important occasions, to get as many of 
the biscuit as I possibly could ; no one said any thing to 
me, and I filled my bosom, and took as many as I could 
hold in my hand, a dozen or more in all, and when we 
arrived at the ferry-stairs I stowed them away in my knap- 
sack. We quickly embarked on board of the boats ; as 
each boat started, three cheers were given by those on 
board, which was returned by the numerous spectators 
who thronged the wharves ; they all wished us good luck, 
apparently ; although it was with most of them, perhaps, 
nothing more than ceremony. "We soon lauded at Brook- 
lyn, upon the Island, marched up the ascent from the ferry 
to the plain. We now began to meet the wounded men, 
another sight I was unacquainted with, some with broken 
legs, and some with broken heads. The sight of these a 
little daunted me, and made me think of home, but the 
sight and thought vanished together. We marched a 
short distance, when we halted to refresh ourselves. 
Whether we had any other victuals besides the hard bread 



I do not remember, but I remember my gnawing at them; 
they were bard enough to break the teeth of a rat, One 

of the soldiers complaining of thirst to bis officer; look at 
that man, said be, pointing to me, be is not thirsty, I will 
warrant it. I felt a little elevated to be stiled a man. 
While resting here, -which was not more than twenty 
minutes or half an hour, the Americans and British were 
warmly engaged within sight of us. What were the feel- 
ings pf most or all the young soldiers at this time, I know 
not, but I know what were mine ; — but let mine or theirs 
be what they might, I saw a Lieutenant who appeared to 
have feelings not very enviable ; whether lie was actuated 
by fear or the canteen I cannot determine now ; I thought 
it fear at the time; for he ran round among the men of 
his company, snivelling and blubbering, praying each one 
if he had aught against him, or if he had injured any one 
that they would forgive him, declaring at the same time 
that he, from his heart, forgave them if they had offended 
him, and I gave him full credit for his assertion ; for had 
he been .at the gallows with a halter about his neck, he 
could not have shown more fear or penitence. A fine sol- 
dier you arc, I thought, a fine officer, an exemplary man 
for vounsr soldiers! I would have then suffered anything 
short of death rather than have made such an exhibition 
of myself; but, as the poet says, 

"Fear does things so like a witch 

" Tis hard to distinguish which is which/' 

The officers of the new levies wore cockades of different 
colours to distinguish them from the standing forces, as 
they were called ; the field officers wore red, the captains 
white, and the subaltern officers green. While we were 
resting here our Lieutenant-Colonel and Major, (our Colo- 
nel not being with us,) took their cockades from their 
'hats; being asked the reason, the Lieiitcuant-Colonel 


gotteu it within sufficient distance to reach them, and 
opening a fire upon them, some obliged them to shift 
their quarters. There was in this action a regiment of 
Maryland troops, (volunteers,) all young gentlemen. When 
they* came out of the water and mud to us, looking like 
water rats, it was a truly pitiful sight. Many of them were 
killed in the pond, and more were drowned. Some of us 
went into the water after the fill of the tide, and took out 
a number of corpses and a great many arms that were sunk 
in the pond and creek. 

Our regiment lay on the ground we then occupied the 
following night; the next day in the afternoon, we had a 
considerable tight scratch with about an equal number of 
the British, which began rather unexpectedly, and a little 
whimsically. A few of our men, (I mean of our regiment,) 
went over the creek upon business that usually employed 
us, that is, in search of something to eat. There was a field 
of indian corn at a short distance from the creek, with 
several cocks of hay about halfway from the creek to the 
cornfield : the men purposed to get some of the corn, or any- 
thing else that was eatable. When they got up with the hay- 
cocks they were fired upon by about an equal number of the 
British, from the cornfield; our people took to the bay, and 
the others to the fence, where they exchanged a number of 
shots at each other, neither side inclining to give back. A 
number, say forty or fifty more of our men, went over and 
drove the British from the fence ; they were by this time rein- 
forced in their turn, and drove us back. The two parties 
kept thus alternately reinforcing until we had most of our 
regiment in the action. After the officers came to com- 
mand, the English were soon routed from the place, but 
we dare not follow them for fear of falling into some snare, 
as the whole. British army was in the vicinity of us ; I do 
not recollect that we had any one killed outright, but we 
had several severely wounded, and somo, T believe, mortally. 


Our regiment was alone, no other troops being near 
"where we were lying; we were upon a rising ground 
covered with a young growth of trees; we felled a fence 

of trees around us to prevent the approach of the enemies' 
horse. We lay there a day longer, in the latter part of 
the afternoon there fell a very heavy shower of rain which 
wet us all to the skin, and much damaged our ammunition ; 
about sunset, when the shower had passed over, we were 
ordered to parade and discharge our pieces, we attempted 
to fire by platoons for improvement, but we made blunder- 
ing work of it : it was more like a running fire, than firing 
by divisions : however, we got our muskets as empty as 
our stomachs, and with half the trouble, nor was it half 
the trouble to have reloaded them, for we had wherewithal 
to do that, but not so with our stomachs. 

Just at dusk, I, with one or two others of our company, 
went off to a barn, about half a mile distant, with intent to 
get some straw to lodge upon, the ground and leaves being 
drenched in water, and we as wet as they ; it was quite 
dark in the barn, and while I was fumbling about the floor 
some one called to me from the top of the mow, inquiring 
where I was from ; I told him. lie asked me if we had 
not had an engagement there, (having heard us discharging 
our gnns,) I told him we had and a severe one too ; — he 
asked if many were killed: — I told him that I saw none 
killed, nor any very badly wounded. I then heard several 
others, as it appeared, speaking on the mow. Poor fellows, 
they had better have been at their posts, than skulking in 
a barn on account of a little wet, for I have not the least 
doubt but that the British had possession of their mortal 
parts before the noon of the next day. 

I could not find any straw, but I found some wheat in 
the sheaf, standing by the side of the floor ; J took a sheaf 
or two and returned as fast a? I could to the regiment. 
AVhen I arrived the men were all paraded to march oil' the 


ground ; I left my wheat, seized my musket and fell into 
the ranks. We were strictly enjoined not to speak, or 
even cough, while on the march. All orders were given 
from ofheer to officer, and communicated to the men in 
whispers. What such secrecy could mean we could not 
divine. We marched ofl'in the same way that we had come 
on to the island, forming various conjectures among our- 
selves as to oar destination. Some were of opinion that 
we were to endeavour to get on the flank, or in the rear of 
the enemy. Others, that we were going up the East river, 
to attack them in that quarter; but none, it seems, knew 
the right of the matter. We marched on, however, until 
we arrived at the ferry, where we i in mediately embarked 
on board the batteaux, and. were conveyed safely to Xcw- 
York, where we were landed about three o'clock in the 
morning, nothing against our inclination. 

The next day the British showed themselves to be in 
possession of our works upon the island, by firing upon 
some of our boats, passing to and from Governor's Island. 
Our regiment was employed, during this day, in throwing 
up a sort of breastwork, at their alarm post upon the 
wharves, (facing the enemy,) composed of spars and logs, 
and filling the space between with the materials of which 
the wharves were composed, — old broken junk bottles, 
flint stones, &e., which, had a cannon ball passed through, 
would have chanced to kill live men where the ball would 
one. But the enemy did not see lit to molest us. 

[A Narrative of some of the Adventures, Dangers and Sufferings of a 
Revolutionary Soldier ; interspersed with Anecdotes of Incidents that oc- 
curred within his own observation. Written by himself. 

"Long, sleepless nights in heavy arms I've stood ; 
" And spent laborious days in dust and blood." 

Pope's Homer. 

Ilullowdl, 1S30, pp. iv, 219.] 



[Xo. 51.] 

Narrative of the Participation of the Rhode Island llegiment in 

the Campaign on Long Island, by Captain Stephen Obuj. 

" After a tedious march overland to New-York, the Rhode 

Island regiment was stationed on Long Island, at Brooklyn 
heights, half a mile from the city, just across the river. 
Here they were steadily employed in erecting fortifications 
on the island, destined to he of no service. The island was 
often annoyed hy small parties of British, scouting about 
and robbing the luckless inhabitants of whatever they could 
lay hands upon. Captain Olncy was one of a party des- 
patched one night to look after some of these fellows, and 
had the good fortune to apprehend some seven or eight of 
them. A part of them got intelligence and made off quick 
enough to save themselves. Captain 01ne3 r 's prisoners 
proved to be persons of * mature age, good sense, and very 
considerable information,' and he expressed his amazement 
'that such persons should doubt the justice of the patriot 
cause, and still more astonishing that they avowed their 
belief that the states had not the means of supporting their 
independence.' In after life, he says it appeared no 
wonder they should have doubted the latter, so perfectly 

unprepared were the undisciplined forces of the states 

[Soon after their arrival on Long Island the army was 
called out to hear the Declaration of Independence 
read.] * * * 

" So elated were the little band on Long-Island, that they 
lay down with light hearts that night, and Captain Olncy 
records that he dreamed, after coining off guard, that 
night, and falling asleep in his marquee, that a British 
vessel came into the harbor of New York, and struck her 
sails in honor of General Washington. He awoke, he 
says, and 'considered it was but a dream, but beheld in 


about two hours a British frigate, the first that had ever 
made the attempt, set sail, and ran by New York, up to 
Tarytown Cove, notwithstanding the fire from all our 
batteries and received but little damage,' to the great 
mortification of the company who found themselves much 
deceived about the strength of their batteries. But this 
was nothing to what followed. 

"Never perhaps during the whole war of the revolution, 
was there an American force on any station, that ought 
to have watched with greater vigilance the movements of 
the enemy than that now encamped on Long Island; un- 
fortunately General Greene, who had been put in com- 
mand there was taken sick, and had to return home, so 
that the command devolved upon General Sullivan, or 
rather he was succeeded by him. General Sullivan was a 
man of undoubted honor and trust, and his character was 
beyond the reach of suspicion, but it must be evident to 
every one who reads that there was a terrible misman- 
agement somewhere. An army said to be 23,000 strong, 
was lying just without Sandy Hook, and waiting only for 
an unguarded moment to land their forces. The frigate 
that Captain Olney mentions, which ran by the guns of 
so many forts, ought to have been a sufficient warning if 
they had no other. A small detachment was stationed on 
Governor's Island, and another at Paulas Hook, in front 
of New York, and upon the right bank of the Hudson. 
The American troops (the main body of the army) were 
in the city commanded by General Washington in person. 
General Putnam was on Long Island, his headquarters on 
Brooklyn Heights, and Brigadier General Stirling, Lord 
Stirling as he was ^encrallv called, and many other officers 
of inferior rank, who afterwards distinguished themselves 
highly in the war of independence, were there. 
* * But it is useless to look back or mourn over the 
3,000 Americans who fell or were taken prisoners, iu that 


disastrous night and day, when the British surprised the 
forces at Brooklyn. It is useless, as it was then, to Btop 
to mourn over the flower of Maryland, the entire regiment 
of whom consisting of brave and educated young men, of 
some of the most patriotic and best families in the province, 
which were totally cut to pieces from the mistakes of a night. 

"In silence and security the British made their disposi- 
tions of attack, and soon after dark, succeeded in effecting 
a landing between the villages of Gravesend and New 
Utrecht, unseen and unopposed. This place is directly 
on the west coast of Long Island, and opposite Stateu 
Island, and near the narrows, and was only three miles 
from the American encampment. General Sullivan had 
been in New York on the preceding day, but had returned 
on that evening, Captain Olney states, bringing over 3,000 
men; and this 3,000 by his account took their station 
somewhat in advance of the fort. * * 

" Stephen Olney, who was sent on with a detachment 
in advance, lay all night within a mile of this force of 
23,000 men, and knew not that they were in the neighbor- 
hood. **...■* 

" [Olney] was with the regiment that was ordered on pic- 
quet guard, and lay that night preceding the battle, on their 
arms, in a wood within one mile of the enemy. ' The 
ground being covered with wood, we were not exactly 
apprized of our situation,' says lie. Between him and 
the forts, on the right and left, the ground was occu- 
pied by Lord Stirling. It was not until daylight that 
this division was attacked, and the first they knew, tiring 
commenced simultaneously in their front and rear. The 
firing at first was from left to right. 'We perceived,' 
lie says 'we were surrounded, but as yet saw no 
enemy; Lieutenant Colonel Cornell (I believe Colonel 
Hitchcock was not present) ordered Capt. Tew's platoon, 
to which I belonged, to move in front, to protect our 


sentries, and marched the regiment towards our forts 
where the firing continued. When they came in sight of 
the enemy, they were necessitated to fight 01 run their way 

through.' The latter it seems was decided on, and these 
brave fellows, with some killed and others wounded, 
gallantly forced their way through and gained the fort of 
Gen. "Putnam. 'Many who hid in the woods came 
into camp after night,' but to return to Capt. Tow's pla- 
toon : 'he marched a little distance in front, hut as the 
firing continued in our rear, he thought proper to detach 
me, with about 20 men, in front, to protect the sentries, and 
he inarched after, and shared the fate of -his regiment, the 
fate of those who fell on the sword of the enemy. I 
marched forward, and found the enemy firing their field 
pieces, and some small arms into the woods, where our 
sentries were placed, but the balls seemed to make the 
most havoc in the tops of the trees. I placed my men 
behind the trees, to be in readiness, if the enemy advanced, 
believing we were too far off for small arms, but my men 
thought they could kill, and kept up a deliberate fire. 

" 'We had been thus situated about half an hour, when 
the firing ceased in the rear, and I discovered a party of 
the enemy coming towards us in that direction ; I formed 
my men, and marched oft in very quick time towards our 
home, (fort,) believing the enemy were between us mid 
the forts. I cautioned my men not to hurry, as the greatest 
exertion would be necessary at the end of the race; in' 
about two miles, we came out of the woods into a field 
beside the road which led by a school house, by which we 
must pas- tc get over the mill-dam to our fort; at this 
place Lieutenant Thomas Hughes joined me with a small 
party: on getting over the fence into the road, I saw the 
enemy as near the school house as we were, drew up in a 
line ever so long, deliberately viewing our works; I told 
my Sergeant Pollin to fix his bayonet, as we must ^o 


through here, or die. At this instant, the enemy saw us, 
and ran ahead, and fired, and more ran before them and 
tired to prevent our passage. Nevertheless, I made out to 
get nearly all my men past the school house, and part of 
Hughes's ; after passing the enemy, about one hundred 
yards, they had- huddled together in the road. I ordered 
my men to face about, and give them one well-directed 
fire, which I saw from the staggering, had taken good 
effect.' They then continued this running fight to Flat- 
bush, and finally got into the fort in safety. ' I remark,' 
Captain Olney continues, ' about 2,400 were taken pri- 
soners, and 500 killed and wounded,' making it one hun- 
dred less then the official account of the battle states. 

" ' At the time, I did not,' he says, < pretend to know or 
examine the generalship of posting Sullivan's and Ster- 
ling's forces, as they were, leaving the forts but poorly 
manned with sick and invalids. It must be on the sup- 
position that the enemy would come on the direct road, 
and if our troops were overpowered, they might retreat to 
and defend the fort. But the enemy took a circuitous 

route, and where it was said Colonel (Hitchcock 

probably) had neglected to guard, and arrived in our rear 
without notice. Had it been left to the British Generals to 
make a disposition of our troops, it is a chance if they 
would have made it more advantageous to themselves, and 
but from their tardiness they might have taken our main 
fort. All that seemed to prevent it was a scarecrow row 
of palisades from the fort to low water in the cove, which 
Major Box had ordered set up that morning. After we 
got into our fort, hungry, tired and sleepy, to augment 
our distress, there came on a dreadful heavy storm, with 
thunder and lightning, and the rain fell in such torrents 
that the water was soon ancle deep in the fort. Yet with 
all these inconveniences, and a powerful enemy just without 
musket shot, our men could not be kept awake. They 


would sit down and fall asleep, although Lieut. Cornell, a 
faithful and vigilant officer, whom they used to nickname 
* Old Snarl,' was threatening to make daylight shine 
through them all the time.' 

" Thus ended the melancholy tragedy of the battle of 
Long Island; through all its beautiful valleys from Bed- 
ford to Jamaica, the turf was strewed with the dead and 
the dying; imagination paints the scene, redolent of 

*F *P t* *|* 

" We had to take our baggage, camp equipage, &c, on 
our shoulders,' says Captain Olney, ' and carry them to 
the boats,' and tedious indeed was the operation, through 
mud and mire, and not a ray of light visible, for this in- 
dulgence would at once have betrayed them, and through 
a fog so intense, you might almost' grasp it. The Captain 
and his company were soon, however, in more comfortable 
quarters, and where they could venture to breathe freely, 
though not eating the bread of idleness : a great operation 
was yet to be performed; that was to remove the forces 
on Governor's Island, and get them to the same place of 
safety. Two regiments occupied that Island, and with 
abundance of munitions of war, and a numerous artillery. 
The Americans had fortified it to defend the east river, 
but it could not be expected to be of any avail after the 
loss of Long-Island ; the object was effected, and the whole 
Safely removed to jSTew York." 

[Life of Olney, by Mrs. Williams.] 


[ BTo. 52. ] 

Extract of a Letter from a Marykmder, dated, 

New York, August 30, 1776. 

I have just time to give you a short account of our late 
engagement at Long-Island. On Tuesday we received in- 
telligence that the enemy had landed their troops about 
five miles below our lines; in consequence of which, Gene- 
ral Stirling was ordered to march to the right and General 
Far sons to the left, with the Brigades under their com- 
mands, to take possession of some rising ground, in order 
to flank the enemy and retard the march until a sufficient 
reinforcement should be sent from this place to man the 

We began our march to the right, at three o'clock in 
the morning, with about thirteen hundred men, and about 
sunrise, on our near approach to the ground, discovered 
the enemy making up to it, and in a few minutes our 
advanced parties began the attack; we immediately ad- 
vanced, and took possession of the ground and formed the 
line of battle, when our parties retreated to the main body 
and formed in line with us. In the meantime they began 
a warm lire with their Artillery and Light Infantry, from 
their left, while the main body was forming in columns to 
attack us in front. Our men behaved well, and maintained 
their ground, until ten o'clock, when the enemy retreated 
about two hundred yards and halted, and the tiring on 
each side ceased, at which time we heard Generals Sullivan 
and Parsons engaged on our left. About eleven an ex- 
press came to his Lordship, on which one battalion of 
Riflemen was immediately dispatched to their assistance, 
which left us with no more than nine hundred and fifty 
men. We soon heard the fire continue round on our loir, 


and in a short time discovered part of the enemy in our 
rear, going on to our lines, in order to cut off the commu- 
nication between us. Being thus surrounded, and no 
probability of reinforcement, his Lordship ordered me to 
retreat with the remaining part of our men, and force our 
way through to our camp. We soon fell in with a party 
of the enemy, who clubbed their fire locks, and waved 
their hats to us, as if they they meant to surrender as pri- 
soners; but on our advancing within sixty yards, they 
presented their pieces and fired, whicli we returned with 
so much warmth that they soon quitted their post and 
retired to a large body that was lying in ambuscade. 
During this interval, the main part of our force retreated 
from the left through a marsh, with twenty-three prisoners, 
and got in safe, with the loss of one man killed and three 
drowned in crossing the creek. "We were then left with 
only five companies of our battalion, when the enemy 
returned, and after a warm and close engagement for near 
ten minutes, our little line became so disordered we were 
under the necessity of retreating to a piece of woods on 
our right, where we formed and made a second attack, 
but being overpowered with numbers, and surrounded on 
all sides, by at least twenty thousand men, w T e were drove 
with much precipitation and confusion. General Stirling 
on this retreat was missing, whose brave example had 
encouraged and animated our young soldiers with almost 
invincible resolution. 

The impractibility of forcing through such a formidable 
body of troops, rendered it the height of rashness and 
imprudence to risk th& lives of our remaining party in a 
third attempt, and it became necessary for us to endeavor 
to effect our escape in the best manner we possibly could. 
A parry immediately retreated to the right through the 
woods, and Captain Ford and myself, with twenty others, 
to the left, through a marsh; nine only of whom got safe 
" 06 


in. The principal loss sustained in our battalion, fell on 
Captains Vea&ey, Adams, Lucas, Ford, and Bowie's com- 
panies. The killed, wounded, and missing amount to two 
hundred and fifty-nine; our whole loss that day supposed 
to be near one thousand, chief part of whom are prisoners, 
among whom are Generals Sullivan and Stirling, The 
above is as circumstantial an account as the hurry and 
want of time will admit of. 

A list of the killed and missing in the Maryland Bat- 
talion : Captain Veazey killed; Lieutenant Butler, said to be 
killed; Ensign Femandes, Lieutenant Dent, Captain Bowie, 
missing; Lieutenant Slerrei, Conrscy, and Wright, Ensign 
liidge, thirteen Sergeants, and two hundred and thirty-five 

[American Arcluves, vol. I, oth Series, fol. 1232.] 

[ No. 53. ] 

Extract from a Letter from New- York, dated, 

Friday Morning, August 30, 1776. 
On Monday we were ordered here, and next morning 
were sent over to Long-Island, where our battalion occu- 
pied the lines opposite the left of the enemy; the works 
we had were very weak, and but few cannon to defend 
them. The General officers held a Council yesterday 
afternoon, and thought it necessary to abandon tlie Island, 
for fear of the men-of-war getting into the East Bicer, and 
cutting off the communication with this place, which they 
would have done the first fair wind that served. Our 
battalion, with the other Pennsylvania troops and the Mary- 
land Bc^iment were ordered to cover the retreat of our 


Army, which must have consisted of ten thousand men. 
Our Army began to embark in boats about ten o'clock, 
and continued till daylight. We received orders to quit 
our station about two o'clock this morning, and had made 
our retreat almost to the ferry, when General Washington 
ordered us back to that part of the lines we were first at, 
which was reckoned to be the most dangerous post. A\"c 
got back undiscovered by the enemy, and continued there 
until da} T lig}it. Providentially for us, a great fog arose, 
which prevented the enemy from seeing our retreat from 
their works, which was not more than musket shot from 
us. Had we been discovered, we must have been un- 
avoidably cut off, as we were on a neck of land which 
could have been taken possession of by them before we could 
have got out. A\ r e have got all our regiment over safe, except 
our sentinels, which we were obliged to leave ; but gave 
them notice to retreat in time ; therefore expect they will 
all get safe over. The first fair wind, it is expected the 
men-of-war will come up, and bombard the town, and 
from the heights on Long-Island it may easily be done. 
It is the general opinion we cannot be able to keep it; 
therefore expect we shall be obliged to retreat to Mount 
'Washington and King's Bridge. Since I have been on 
Long-Island, I have had no sleep, nor anything to eat but 
what I plundered ; therefore travelled very light when we 
were obliged to scamper off this morning. By a flag 
received yesterday from the enemy, we are informed Lord 
Stirling and General Sullivan were made prisoners. 

[American Archives, vol. 1, utli Berics, folio 1233.] 


[ No. 54. ] 

Extract of a Letter, dated, 

August 28, 177G. 

We yesterday had a severe engagement with the enemy 
on Long -Is land ; they came through a wood where we were 
posted, in order to come to our lines; they did make an 
attempt to force them, hut were repulsed ; they gained a 
little ground, hut at as great a price almost as they did 
Hunker's Mill. We have missing on our part General 
Sidlican, and about three hundred others. The Island is 
so extensive, and the enemy having got round our people, 
that many of our men made their way through into the 
country, and arc constantly coming in ; General Parsons 
was missing in the same way, but came in this morning. 

From our people who have come in, we learn the enemy 
have lost great numbers ; a deserter informs near six 

[Force, Archives, vol. I, 5tli Series, fol. 1194. j 

[ No. 55. ] 

Extract of a Letter from New York, dated, 

August 28, 177G. 

Yesterday morning the enemy stole through the woods 

I mentioned to you in my last our men were posted in ; 

it is so extensive we could not sufficiently guard it. They 

have gained a little ground, but have bought it almost as 


dear as they did Bunkers Hill. Our Army,, at least the 
small part that was engaged, behaved most manfully; 
they, as it were, surrounded our people, and we were 
obliged to fight our way through them. Colonel Small- 
wood's battalion has gained immortal honour. He was not 
with it himself; Lord Stirling commanded it, and iho Dela- 
ware battalion, as part of his brigade. They fought -the 
enemy, treble in number, in open field, several hours, 'till 
at last, surrounded on the side of a small creek, they were 
obliged to make the best retreat they could. Most of 
them swam the creek. Lord Stirling, at the head of three 
companies, attempted to force his way through the enemy. 
Captains Boicie,Y eazey, Lieutenants Sterrct, Wright, Coursey, 
Dent, Butler, Praid, Ensigns Fur -nandes, Courts, are missing, 
and about one hundred and fifty men of Smallwood's bat- 
talion. The officers gave Lord Stirling the character of as 
brave a man as ever lived. ~\Ve are very sorry for his loss, 
and are fearful that he is killed, from the danger he was 
seen in. General Sullivan is likewise missing, and many 
other officers, with about three hundred men; however, 
we are still in hopes of seeing many of them, as they are 
constantly coming in, having got round through the 
country; General Parsons has come in in the same way, 
after being out all this morning. I assure you there has 
been severe work on both sides. Our people who have 
come in say the fields and woods are covered with dead 
bodies; and a deserter informs the enemy have lost near 
six hundred men. I have the pleasure to inform you 
among the slain is General Grant, lately Colonel Grant, 
of the House of Commons, who gave the Americans the 
character of Cowards. General Parsons saw his body ; 
but the soldier who killed him and got his papers, kc, is 
missing. The enemy once attempted to force our lines, 
but were repulsed, and are now encamped about a mile 
from us. 


Colonel Smalhcood and Colonel Ware were necessarily 
detained here on a Court-Martial for the trial of Colonel 
Zcdlwitz, who is sentenced to be broke, and rendered inca- 
pable of ever holding any military office. 

[Force, Archives, vol. I, 5th Series, fol. 1194.] 

[ ]S T o. 55. ] 

Narrative of Incidents of the Battle by a Soldier. 
i\ r . York, Sept. 1, '76. Last Monday we went over to 
L. I., and about midnight were alarmed by some of our 
scouting parties, who advised us that the enemy were 
coming up the Island with several field-pieces. Upon 
which near 3,000 men were ordered out, chiefly of Mary- 
landers and Pennsylvanians, to attack them on their march. 
About sunrise we came up with a large body of them. 
The Delaware and Maryland battalion made one part. 
Col. Atlee, with his battalion, a little before us, had taken 
post in an orchard, and behind a barn ; and on the ap- 
proach of the enemy, he gave them a very severe fire for 
a considerable time, till they were near surrounding him, 
when he retreated to the woods. The enemy then ad- 
vanced to us, when Lord Stirling, who commanded, im- 
mediately drew up in a line, and offered them battle in 
the true English taste. The British then advanced within 
about 300 yards of us, and began a very heavy fire from 
their cannon and mortars: for both the balls and shells 
Hew very fast, now and then taking off a head. Our men 
stood it amazingly well, not one even showed a disposition 
to shrink. Our orders were not to fire until the enemy 
came within 50 yards of us ; but when they perceived we 
stood their fire so eooty and resolutely, they declined 


coming any nearer, though treble our number. In this 
situation we stood from sunrise till 12 o'clock, the enemy 
firing on us the chief part of the time, when the main 
body of British, by a route we never dreamed of, had sur- 
rounded us, and driven within the lines, or scattered in 
the woods, all our men except the Delaware and Maryland 
battalions, who were standing at bay with double their 
number. Thus situated, we were ordered to attempt a 
retreat by fighting our way through the enemy, who had 
posted themselves and nearly filled every road and field 
between us and our lines. We had not retreated a quar- 
ter of a mile, before we were fired on by an advanced 
party of the enemy, and those in the rear playing their 
artillery on us. Our men fought with more than 
Roman valor. We forced the advanced party which first 
attacked us to give way, through which opening we got a 
passage down the side of a marsh, seldom before waded 
over, which we passed, and then swum a narrow river, 
all the while exposed to the enemy's fire. Capts. Ramsey's 
and Scott's companies were in front and sustained the first 
fire of the enemy, when hardly a man fell. The whole of 
the right wing of our battalion thinking it impossible to 
march through the marsh, attempted to force their way 
through the woods, where they, almost to a man, were 
killed or taken. 

The Marvland battalion has lost 259 men, amongst 
whom are 12 officers: Caps. Veasy and Bowey, Lts. 
Butler, Stcrrit, Dent, Coursey, Muse, Prawl ; Ensigns 
Corts, Fernandes. Who killed and who prisoners is yet 
uncertain. Cols. Atlee, Miles and Riper, are also taken. 
1,000 men missing in all. We took few prisoners. Many 
officers lost their swords and guns. Most of our Generals 
on a high hill, 1 in the lines, viewed us with their glasses, as we 

1 Ponkie-il>er<j, at the junction of Court and Atlantic streets. 


were retreating, and saw tlie enemy we had to pass through, 
though we could not. Many thought we would surrender 
in a body without firing. When we began the attack, 1 
Gen. Washington wrung his hands and cried out "Good 
God! what brave fellows I must this day lose!" Major 
Guest commanded the Maryland battalion, (the Col. and 
Lt. Col. being both at York,) Capts. Adams and Lucas 
were sick. The Major, Oapt. Bamsey, and Lt. Plunket 
were foremost and within 100 yards of the enemy's 
muzzles, when they were fired on by the enemy, who were 
chiefly under cover of an orchard, save a few that showed 
themselves and pretended to give up; clubbing their fire- 
locks till we came within 40 yards, when they immediately 
presented and blazed in our faces; they entirely overshot 
us arid killed some men away behind in the rear. I lAd the 
satisfaction of dropping one the first fire. I was so near 
I could not miss. I discharged my rifle seven times that 

[Onderdonk's Revolutionary Incidents, Suffolk Co., p. 147.] 

[ Xo. 57. ] 

Statement made by a Soldier engaged in the Battle with that part 
of the British Forces who were disguised. {Extract of a 
Letter from Long-Island , dated,) 

August 28, 1776. 

Yesterday's occurrences, no doubt will be described to 
you in various ways. I embrace this leisure moment to 
give as satisfactory an account as I am able. A large body 
of the enemy that landed some time since on Long-Island, 

Doubtless the attack to cut through the enemy's lines when retreating. 


at the end of a beautiful plain, had extended their troops 
about six miles from the place of their first landing. 
There were at this time eleven regiments of our troops 
posted in different parts of the woods, between our lines 
and the enemy, through which they must pass if they at- 
tempted anything against us. 

Early in the morning our scouting parties discovered, 
a large body of the enemy, both horse and foot, advancing 
on the Jamaica road towards us. I was despatched to 
General Putnam to inform him of it. On my way back I 
discovered, as I thought, our battalion on a hill coming in, 
dressed in hunting-shirts, and was going on to join them, 
but was stopped by a number of our soldiers, who told me 
they were the enemy in our dress; on this I prevailed on 
a Sergeant and two men to halt and fire on them, which 
produced a shower of bullets, and we were obliged to 

In the mean time, the enemy, with a large body, pene- 
trated through the woods on our right and centre, or front, 
and about nine o'clock landed another body on their right, 
the whole stretching aerobs the fields and woods between 
our works and our troops, and sending out parties accom- 
panied with Light-Horse, which harassed our surrounded 
and surprised new troops, who, however, sold their lives 
dear. Our forces then made towards our lines, but the 
enemy had taken possession of the ground before them by 
stolen marches. Oar men broke through parties after 
parties, but still found the enemy's thousands before them. 
Colonel Smalhcood's, Alice's, and Ho.skVs battalions, with 
General Stirling at their head, had collected on an emi- 
nence and made a good stand, but the enemy fired a field- 
piece on them, and being greatly 'superior in number, 
obliged them to retreat into a marsh, and finding it. out of 
their power to withstand about six thousand men, they 
waded through the mud and water to a mill opposite to 


them. Their retreat was covered by the Second Battalion 
which had got into our lines. Colonel Ltdz's and the 
Neio-England regiments after this made some resistance in 
the wooSs, but were obliged by superior numbers to 

Colonel Miles'- 's and Golonel Broadh.ead' 's battalions, find- 
• themselves surrounded, determined to fight and run ; they 
did so, and broke through English, Jlessians, &c, and 
dispersed Horse, and at last came in with considerable 
loss. Colonel Parry was early in the day shot through 
the head, encouraging his mem Eighty of our battalion 
came in this morning, having forced their way through 
the enemy's rear, and came round by way of Hell-Gate, 
and we expect more, who are missing, will come in the 
same way. 

[Farce-, Archives, vol. i, 5 th Series, fol. 1103.] 

[ No. 58. ] 

Account of Washington's Presence in the Brooklyn Lines, 
Aug. 27. (Extract of a Letter, elated,) 

Head-Quarters. Long-Island, 

August 28, 177<>. 

Yesterday Washington and his suite came over 
to this place upon receiving intelligence that Generals 
Howe and Clinton had landed with all the troops, except a 
few to guard Staten-Island. Immediately on our arrival 
we heard the noise of a very smart engagement with 
musketry and field pieces; it proved to be Lord Stirling's 
brigade, consisting of Smallwood's regiment from Maryland, 
the Delaware regiment commanded by llaslet, and Penn- 
sylvania regiment commanded by Atlec, besides some 


ethers, who behaved like heroes. They were surrounded 
hy the enemy, who received constant and large reinforce- 
ments, whilst our brave men could not get the least assist- 
ance from their friends, as there were not men sufficient 
to fill our lines, and we expected an attack every, minute. 
There were several other smart and pitched battles till 
evening, when Lord Stirling's men begat] to retreat. • We 
have about five hundred and fifty missing at present. 
This morning General Parsons came in with a few men ; he 
brings an account that the enemy have lost five hundred 
men, and a hat, with two bullet holes, marked Colonel 
Grants and Ins watch. I wish it was General Grant, but 
their great officers don't like venturing. In the evening 
the enemy had a number of tents pitched about a mile 
distance. This morning about four o'clock I accompanied 
the General around the works, and we saw very large 
encampments; by these appearances, and information, 
the enemy are twenty thousand strong. Our sentries are 
vcj'y near theirs, who are about a quarter of a mile dis- 

[Force, Archives, vol. 1, 5th Series, fol. 119o.] 

[ No. 50. ] 

Letter from Gen. Washington to Governor Trumbull, giving an 

Account of ike Battle and .Retreat. 

General Washington to Governour Trumbull. 

New-York, September G, 177 6. 

Sir : I have been honoured with your favour of the 31st 
ultimo, and am extremely obliged by the measures you 
are taking, in consequence of my ivccommemlation letter. 


The exertions of Connecticut upon this, as well as upon 
every other occasion, do them great honour, and I hope 
will be attended with successful and happy consequences. 
In respect to the mode of conduct to be pursued by the troops 
that'go over to the Island, I cannot lay down any certain 
rule; it must be formed and governed by circumstances, 
and the direction of those who command them. 

I 'should have done myself the honour of transmitting to 
you an account of the engagement between a detachment 
of our troops and the enemy, on Long-Island, on the 27th, 
and of our retreat from thence, before now, had it not 
been for the multiplicity of business I have been involved 
in ever since ; and being still engaged, I cannot enter upon 
a minute and particular detail of the affair. I shall only 
add, that we lost, in killed, wounded, and prisoners, from 
seven hundred to one thousand men. Among the pri- 
soners are General Sullivan and Lord Stirling. The inclosed 
list will show you the names of many of the officers that 
are prisoners. The action was chiefly with the troops 
from Jersey, Pennsylvania, the Lower Counties, and Mary- 
land, and Colonel .Huntington's regiment; they suffered 
greatly, being attacked and overpowered by numbers of 
the enemy greatly superiour to them. The enemy's loss 
we have not been able to ascertain, but we have reason to 
believe it was considerable. The engagement was warm, 
and conducted with great resolution and bravery on the 
part of our troops. During the engagement, a deep 
column of the enemy descended from the woods, and 
attempted an impression upon our lines, but retreated 
immediately on the discharge of a cannon, and part of the 
musketry from the line nearest to them. As the main 
body of the enemy had encamped not for from our lines, 
and as I had reason to believe they intended to force us 
from them by regular approaches, which the nature of the 
ground favoured extremely, and at the same time meant. 


by the ships of war, to cut off the communication between 
the City and Island, and by that means keep our men 
divided, and unable to oppose them anywhere, by the 
advice of the General Officers, on the night of the 29th, 
I withdrew our troops from thence without any loss of 
men and but little baggage. 

I am, &c, 

Go. Washington. 

[Force, Archives, vol. n, 5th Scrips, fol. 190.] 

5 3Y *;, y 


Relating to the Progress of Revolutionary Measures 
on Long Island. 

1. Letter from Lord Stirling- to Col. Ward, relating to the Capture 

of Frank James. 

2. Gov. Tryon's letter to Lord George Germaine, guaranteeing the 

Loyalty of the Inhabitants of Long Island. 

3. Letters from Gen. Greene and Benjamin Sands, giving some 

account of the loyalist recruits, and furnishing evidence 
against nineteen residents of Queens Co. 

4. Washington's Instructions to Gen. Putnam regarding the Loyal- 

ists on Long Island. 

5. Benjamin BirdsalFs Complaint to the Provincial Congress of its 

neglect of him. 
C. Letter of William Smith, of Suffolk county, giving Information 
against the Tories in his neighborhood. 

7. Examination of John Ilendriekson, regarding the Conspiracy of 

the Tories. 
?-». Sergeant Graham's Plan of Attack. 

8. Relating to the Arrival of the British Fleet at Sandy Hook. 
8 :i . Information respecting certain Tories at Jamaica. 

9. Relating to the imprisonment of Loyalists. 

10. Benjamin Kissam's Report to Congress on driving off Stock. 

11. Letters of Jeronms Rem sen relating to the same matter. 

12. Capt. Lambert Suydam's report of Loyalists taken Prisoners. 
«13. Roll of the Troops of tlorsc in Kings and Queens Counties, on 

duty in driving off Stock. 

14. Depositions and Letters relating to ihe Loyalists of Long Is- 

11a. Address of Congratulation, signed by 1203 inhabitants of 
Queens Co., to Gov. Tryon on his return to New York, and 
Tryon's acknowledgment . 


Documents relating to the Landing of the British , and of the shirm ishes 
precepting the Battle 

15. Major Abner Benedict's Account of the Tornado which preceded 

the Battle. 

16. Col. Samuel J. Atlce's Journal. 

17. Burning of Judge LefTerts' House, and xYccount of the skirmish 

at Flatbush. 

18. Extracts from Letters of Officers in Col. Atlee's Battalion. 

19. Washington's Letter to Gen. Putnam concerning Marauding. 

20. Gen. Sullivan's Account of the Battle of Valloy Grove. 

21. Accounts of the Landing of the British, and of the Thunder 

storm of August 21. 

22. Washington's Announcement to Gov. Trumbull of the Landing 

of the British. 

Official Reports and Accounts of the Battle. 

23. Admiral Howe's Report of his Operations. 

24. Gen. Howe's Official Report. 

25. Washington's Letters, announcing his Retreat from Long Is- 

2G. Col. Small wood's Account of the Battle, and Loss of the Mary- 
land Battalion. 

27. Col. Haslet's Account. 

28. Col. Harrison's Letter to the President of Congress. 

29. Lord Stirling's Account of his Capture. 
36. Col. Reed's Account of the Retreat. 

31. Col. James Chambers's Account. 

32. Account by a British Officer. 

33. Letters from the Maryland Committee of Safety. 
31. Extract from the Journal of Lord George Harris. 

35. Extract from the Journal of Sir George Collier. 

36. Extract from a Letter by an Officer in the Maryland Battalion. 

37. Return of the Prisoners taken by the British, and of their own 

Losses, August 27, 1770. 
3S. Col. Troup's Account of the Treatment of Prisoners by the Bri- 

Narratives oy Historians, and Contemporaneous Accounts. 

40. Hessian Account of Events on Long Island. 

41. Account by a British Historian. 


42. Stedman's Account of the Landing of the British and of the 


43. Extracts from the Testimony given before a Committee of Par- 

liament by British Officers, and from Letters, Pamphlets, etc. 

44. Extract from a Letter from Philadelphia. 

45. Extracts from two Letters by Soldiers. 

46. Extracts from President Stiles' Diary. 

Narratives l>y Soldiers present in the different Engagements. 

47. Narrative by Maj. Abraham Leggett. 
4S. Statement of Hezekiah Munsell. 

49. Recollections by an Eye Witness. 

50. Extract from the Narrative of James Sullivan Martin. 

51. Narrative of the Participation of the Rhode Island Regiment, 

by Stephen Olney. 

52. Account by a Marylan&er. 

53. Extract from a Letter from New York. 

54. Extract from a Letter. 

55. Extract from a Letter from New York. 

56. Narrative of the Battle by a Soldier. 

57. Letter by a Soldier in which it is stated that part of the 

British forces were disguised. 
5S. Letter referring- to Washington's Presence in the Lines. 
59. Letter from Washington to Gov. Trumbull giving an Account 

of the Battle and Retreat. 





-DDRESS of congratulation to 

Gov. Tiyon, and Ms reply, 340. 
Adgate, Mathew, 84. 
American Army, see Continental 

Arden," Charles, Dr., 05, 329, 334. 
Atlee, Samuel J., Col., Ids Journal, 

BaCHE, Theophilact, 035. 

Bailey, Eph., Capt., 70. 

Bancroft, George, reference to his 

history (note), 250. 
Battle of Long Island, see Docu- 
Beagle, Joseph, 330. ' 
Bedel, Jeremiah, 93. 
Bedford, houses burned at, 361. 
Bedle, Joseph, 93. 
Belt, William, 335. 
Benedict, Aimer, Major, account of 

the battle, and of the tornado i\ hieh 

preceded it, 348. 
Bennet, Wynant, 237. 
Benson, Egbert, endeavors to pacify 

the royalists at Jamaica, 25. 4G ; 

letter concerning the quakers, 3 16. 
Bergen, Garret, incident related by, 

(note), 238. 
Bethune, George, arrested, S3, 334. 
Betts, Azor, arrested, 57 ; Thomas, 


Birdsall, Benjamin, Capt., his cha- 
racter, 05; organizes an expedi- 
tion, 80 ; promoted, 92 ; his further 
career, 101-3 ; his letter of com- 
plaint to Congress, 322. 

Birthplace of the revolution on Long 


Blackwell, Jacob, Col., 7, 9 ; his cha- 
racter, 10. 
I Blanco, John, 340. 
Bloom, Jacob, 330. 
Bluckie's barracks, 237. 


rum, Fori, 141. 

Boerum, William, 340 ; Isaac, 340. 

Box, Fort, 141. 

Brevoort, James Carson, reference to 
(note), 222. 
j British army, expected on Long 
Island, 82; fleets arrive, 125, 129; 
ITmve, (.Jen., announces the arrival 
at Jamaica, 332 ; accounts of the 
landing, see Documents ; number 
of troops, 161 ; loss in the battles, 
20 1.410. 
I Brooklyn, town records, how lost, 12; 
town meeting, 13, 14 ; overawed by 
New York city, 20 ; troops billeted 
on residents of, 44; conspiracy at, 
94, (t ?cq. ; plan of attack on, 90, 
330 ; -battle of, 152; siege of, 206; 
council of war at, retreat decided 
upon, 207. 

Brower, Adolphus, 340; Jeremiah, 



Hull, Abraham, 86, 99. 
Buriis, John, 330. 

Bushwick, town records, how lost, 


'AARY, Lt. Co]., 92, 
Cal lender, John, account of, 195. 
Cantine, Peter, 340. 
Cannon, John, 93. 
Carpenter, Increase, 2, 174. 
Casper, Andrew, 340 ; James, 340. 
Chambers, James, Lt. Col., account 

of the battle of 27th August, 390. 
Characteristics of the early settlers 

oa Long Island, 1. 
Church established, the, on L. L, 74. 
Clowes, Justice, 329 ; Timothy, 330. 
Cogswell, James, 93. 
Coldcn, Cadwallader, account of, 15 ; 

distrusted by the whigs, 21, 50; 

his character and writings, 7G. 
Cjlden, David, 329 ; letter to Tryon, 

Colgan, Flemming, 334 ; Thomas, 

Collier, George, Sir, extracts from 

the paper of, 407. 
Committees of Safety, organized, 21. 
Connecticut sol 'Hers, cowardice of, 

229, 254. 
Conspiracy on Long Island, 94— 101. 
Contemporaneous accounts of the 

battle. M-t- ]),»■ nun mts. 
Continental army on Long Island, its 

force, 145, 162 ; its losses in battle, 

204; subordinate officers, how some- 
times appointed, 200. 
Cornell, Thomas, 328, 329. 
Cornwallis, Lord, 153. 
Cornwell, Caleb, 320. 
Corsa, Isaac, Col., 23. 
Council of War in Brooklyn after the 

battle, 207. 
Cowenhoven, Nicholas, 15, 111, 113. 

DeBEVORT, Charles, 340. 

Declaration of Independence, first de- 
clared on Long Island, 29. 

Defenses of New York harbor, 125. 

Defiance, Fort, 141. 

Delleister, General, becomes impa- 
tient on the passage to America, 
130; his treatment of a prisoner, 

DeLancey, Oliver, Capt., 304, 422. 

Delaware battalion, 179, 3S7. 

Demilt, Obadiah, 320. 
I Denton, Isaac, 328 ; Joseph, 93. 
j Depeyster, James, 334, 335 ; Joseph, 

| oOO. 

j Depositions and letters .relating to 
the loyalists of L. I. ; 341. 

, Disarming of royalists, 30, 37. 
Documents, 313-533 ; list of, 535. 

j Dongan oak, 100. 

! Drafting, 87-90. 

i Driving off stock, letters relating to, 

| 330, 33S. 

| Dunbar, John, 334 ; William, 334. 

i Durland, Henry, 93. 

| Duryee, RoelofT, 334. 

; Duyckinck, Christopher, liis charac- 
ter and acts, 53-8. 

i EARLY settleifig on Long Island, 1 . 
! Eelking, Max von, extracts from his 

history, 423. 
I Ellsworth, William, 340. 
! Enrollment of militia, 09. 73. 
: Etherington, Samuel, 340. 
I Everit, Thomas, 340 : William, 


-T ANNING, Edmund, his character 

and acts, SO, 310. 
Few, James, SO. 
First resistance to the British on 

Long Island, 127. 



I \ ish, convention at. lo : battl- 

of. 15*3 : burning of houses at, 

F •-. 00 : Thomas, 03. 
Flushing, committee of safety, ?. 
Foiliot, George, 33o. 
Forbes, Gilbert, 00. 
For? Hamilton, fir^t resistance in New 

Fortifications on Long Island, 138, 

Fort Neck, 00. 
Foster, Jacob, 330. 
French, Joseph, 10 ; Justice, 004. 
F.arman, Gabriel, Judo;.', qu 




.Gale.-Mr., 40. 

Germaine, Lord, 80, 314. 

Gibbons; Mary, 101. 

Governor's island, 144. 

Gowanr.5, battle of, 153, 171. 

Gram/. S rgeant, plan of attack, 
99, 030. 

Grant, General, his boast in parlia- 
ment, 173. 

Graydon's memoirs, quoted, 231. 

Great Neck, Committee of Safety, 

Brreene, V ft, 139. 

6r r* Jfathanael, Gen.. 84, 147 ; Lis 
ill 58,161; his account of t 
risoi ?rs, 310. 

Heard, Col., 33, 41, 020. 

Hempstead, loyal to the crown, 4. 17, 
19,26, 07 : communication with the 
British, 63 

Uendrickson, John, 84 ; his examina- 
tion, 327. • 

Hessian sol Hers, arrival, 100 ; * 
by the inhabitants, 152 ;. their dis- 
cipline 1S7; their cruelty, 188, 
189 ; IT -^sian account of the oj 
tions on Long Island, 423 

Hewlett, Eichard, Capt., 21, 26, his 
character, 27, 28 ; gathers anus 
and ammunition, 31 : efforts for 
his capture, 4 x ' ; engaged in the 
conspiracy, 85,87 ■ "■ 338. 

Hiekey, TJ his plot, 00-100. 

Kirks. Gap*., 329 : John, 340 ; Thom- 
as, 19. 

Hinchman, Robert, 002, 304. 

Hollander and Puritan compared, 1 ; 
their indhference. 17. 

Hersemanden, Daniel, Judge, Ids 
eha* • story of the negro 

plot, 77. 78. 

I an, Commodore. 003. 

Howard , William, narrative of, 100. 

Howe, Gen., his character. 134, 211 ; 
letter to Germaine, 332 ; his i : 
report of the battle. 378 : remarks 
<>n L : s report, 407. 

HOWe, Ltord, 122 ; his character, 100 : 
his account of the landing, 070. 

ilulctt, see Hewlett. 

Huntington, town of, 04. 

Uutchings, John, 93. 

Il AM 1LTOX, Archibald , 95. y 

Hancock, John, 8. I INDIANS, 107, 168. 

Col., narrative by, 290. Invasion, the. 122. 

Harris. G r* . Lord, extract from ] 

his journal, 40j. ^ 

Harris-.n, Robert H., letter to Ton- JAMAICA, meeting at. 2: rotes 
. _ : agninst representation m Congress, 

Haslet, CoL, letter to Thomas Rod- 30. 

ncv ;>9|. i James, Frank. CO, 63,313. 



Jo] neon, Barcnt, 110 ; Hendrick, 339 ; 
Jacques*, S85; Ben. Jeremiah, 
quoted; 109, 108 : Col. Philip, 308. 

Jones, Thomas, Judge, 03, 10S. 

K ERSHAW, Martin, 340. 

Ketcham, Joshua, 93. 

Kettlctas, Parson, 334. 

Kings county, hostile to revolution, : 

13; town meeting, 13; deputies 

from, 111 ; militia, 137. . 
Kingston jail, royalists confined 

there, 50. 
Kissam, Benjamin, report on driving 

off stock, 330 : Daniel, W., 50, OS, | 

320, 320. 
Knight, Charles, narrative of the 

battle, 447. 

LaMBERTSON, Jacob, 03. 

Landing of the British, accounts of 
the, document-. 372, etseq. 

Lasher, Col., 23. 

Lawrence. Abraham, 22. 

Lee, Charles, Gen... appointed military : 
commandant, 43; his vigorous 
measures, 45, etseq.; letter to Con- 
gress, 47 ; to Col. Sears, 52 ; his 
retirement from command, 58. 

Lefterts, John, 15, 111 ; Isaac, 334 ; 
Li-ftert, 1 1, 107 : house burned, 

Leggett, Abrahs ui, Maj., his narra- 
tive, 499. 

Letters and <1. positi ■■::> relating to 
loyalists, 341. 

Lexington, battle of, 15. 

Living-ion. John William, Jr., 334. 

Long Island, characteristics of the 
early settlers. 1 ; independence 
first declared on. 29 ; established 
church on, 74; loyalty of the in- 
habitants, guaranteed by Gov. '1 ry- 
on. 314. 

Loosely, Charles, 116. 

Lett. Johannes E, 15. 111. 

Loudon. Samuel, outrage upon. 57. 

Loyalists, see Royalists. 

Loyalty of the inhabitants of L 
Island, guaranteed by Gov. Tryon, 

Ludlow, Gabriel, 320. 

Lynch, Michael, DC : trial, 09 ; con- 
victed of treason; 100. 

McEVERS, Charles, 334 
McConn, William, 93. 

Marauding by th : Americans, Wash- 
ington's letter relating to, 3GC. 

Marblehead regiment, 270. 

Martin, James Sullivan, extract from 
his narrative, 507 ; S i 95,334. 

Maryland Committee of Safety to 
Congress, 403, 404. 

Maryland regiments, 202, 205 ; Small- 
wood's account of, 386, 404. 

Marylai dor, extract from a letter by 
a, 520. 

Massacre of the Continental tn - 
account of. by a British officer, 402. 

Mathews, David, mayor oi New York, 
05, 97, 101. 

Matter of Fact, extracts from, ■'■. 

Mechanics committee, 53, 54,58. 

Menzies, a dancing master, appoint I 
adjutant, 201. 

Mifflin, Gen., 281. 

Miles, Col., 107, 185, 193. 

Militia enrolled, 73. 

Mill, Obd., 334. 

Miller, Peter, 340. 

Mills, Hope, 71. 

Minute men, 20. 

Mitchell, Thomas, S8. 

Morris, . 82 : Gouverneur, I 

to Washingti u 

W Jacob, Cap*.. 50. 

Mnnsell, lie/ V ' •.. - cut, 501. 

Murrav, Lindlev, 21. 75. 



.IN AXCY, Brig., incident concerning, 

Narratives by soldiers present in the 
different engagements, and by his- 
torians and others, see Documents. 

Neutrality, of the wealthy, 21 ; not 

permitted, 73. 
New Euglaud emigration to Long 

Island, 1". 
New levies, 2