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or THE 


President, .... 

First Vice-President, - 
Second Vice-President, - 
Foreign Corresponding Secretary, 
Home Corresponding Secretary, 
Recording Secretary, - 
Treasurer, - 





Librarian, GEORGE HANNAH. 









Rev. CnARLES H. HALL, D.D., 









ALFRED P. PUTNAM, Clinlrmnn. 



GEORGE HANNAH, Secretary. 


A. W. HUMPHREYS, Chairman. 





SETH M. MURDOCK, Secretary. 


Kings County : 


Rt. Rev. A. N. LITTLEJOHN, D.D., 









Rev. N. H. SCIIENCK, D.D., 


Queens County : 





Suffolk County : 

Hon. JOHN A. DIX, 






The volume now offered to the public is the outgrowth of 
a search for fresh material bearing upon the important cam- 
paign of 1776 in and around Brooklyn and New York. It 
relates, more particularly, to tho operations both of the 
British and American armies on Long Island, including a 
description of tho topography, tho camps and works, and the 
details of tho battle of August 27th, with a statement of tho 
troops engaged and tho losses they suffered. Tho narrative 
is also extended to include all tho principal movements occur- 
ring subsequently at New York, which form so large a share 
of the Revolutionary history of this vicinity. A complete 
picture is thus presented of the struggle with which these 
neighboring and now closely united cities were identified a 
century ago. 

The Directors are happy in being able to present as a Cen- 
tennial contribution to the literature of that period a work 
so valuable and interesting, and they cannot too warmly 
commend tho zeal and intelligent industry of its author, Mr. 
Henry P. Johnston, formerly of Brooklyn, now of New 
York, who has been so successful in securing tho original 
documents upon which his full and clearly written account 
is mainly based. The history is principally of a military 
nature, and is founded both upon tho new fund of informa- 
tion and what had been already well authenticated, making 
the narrative more accurate than was possible heretofore. 


We can now realize, more fully than ever, how much im- 
portance was attached to Brooklyn and its surroundings in 
the general military plans, and with what significance the 
battle of Long Island was regarded at the time, both in 
Great Britain and America. 

The subject touches the Revolutionary history of Massa- 
chusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, 
Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Officers 
and soldiers from these States lie buried in this region, 
making it common ground for all. It is the duty and the 
privilege of our Society to preserve the details of this ser- 
vioo and perpetuate the memory of the men who performed it. 

The. publication of this volume marks the beginning of 
the sixteenth year of the existence of the Society, with its 
prospects brighter than ever, its membership increasing, its 
influence more widely extended, and with new opportunities 
y for usefulness. 

Mr. Edwards S. Sanford has recently added five hundred 
dollars to the Publication Fund, constituted by him, by 
means of whioh the Society is enabled to print its memoirs. 

The Directors have also the gratification of announcing 
that, a sufficient fund having been secured, a building will 
soon be erected upon the site already owned by the Society, 
with abundant space for its library and manuscripts, its 
museum an *> works of art, and a hall for its meetings, to- 
gether with all no, ^ary facilities for reading and study. The 
institution may then ta»».e the place in Brooklyn it was de- 
signed to occupy by those who originated it, and have main- 
tained and established it. 

Brooklyn, J ^ne 10, 1878. 

















Copyright, 1878, 

For tmi Society. 


8. W. OUEEX, 


l< ami 18 Jacob Street, 
N«w York. 


> n 

I I ,„i, I n n I J'. .11 


The site now occupied by the two cities of New 
York and Brooklyn, and over which they continue to 
spread, is pre-eminently " Revolutionary soil." Very few 
of our historic places are more closely associated with 
the actual scenes of that struggle. As at Boston in 
1 775, so here in 1776, we had the war at our doors and 
all about us. In what is now the heart of Brooklyn 
Revolutionary soldiers lay encamped for months, and 
in the heat of a trying summer surrounded themselves 
with lines of works. What have since been converted 
into spots of rare beauty — Greenwood Cemetery and 
Prospect Park — became, with the ground in their 
vicinity, a battle-field. New York, which was then 
taking its place as the most flourishing city on the 
continent, was transformed by the emergency into a 
fortified military base. Troops quartered in Broad 
Street and along the North and East rivers, and on 
the line of Grand Street permanent camps were 
established. Forts, redoubts, batteries, and intrench- 
ments encircled the town. The streets were barricad- 
ed, the roads blocked, and efforts made to obstruct 
the navigation of both rivers. Where we have stores 



and warehouses, Washington fixed alarm and picket 
post?; and at points where costly residences stand, 
men fought, died, and were buried. In 1776 the cause 
had become general ; soldiers gathered here from ten 
of the original thirteen States, and the contest as- 
sumed serious proportions It was here around New 
York and Brooklyn that the War of the Revolution 
began in earnest. 

The record of what occurred in this vicinity at that 
interesting period has much of it been preserved in our 
standard histories by Gordon, Marshall, Irving, Hil- 
dreth, Lossing, Bancroft, Carrington, and others. In 
the present volume it is given as a single connected 
account, with many additional particulars which have 
but recently come to light. This new material, gath- 
ered largely from the descendants of officers and 
soldiers who participated in that campaign, is pub- 
lished with other documents in Part II. of this work, 
and is presented as its principal feature. What im- 
portance should be attached to it must be left to the 
judgment of the reader. 

The writer himself has made use of these documents 
in filling gaps and correcting errors. Such documents, 
for example, as the orders issued by Generals Greene 
and Sullivan on Long Island, with the original letters 
of Generals Parsons, Scott, and other officers, go far 
towards clearing up the hitherto doubtful points in 
regard to operations on the Brooklyn side. There is 
not a little, also, that throws light on the retreat to 



New York; while material of value- has been un- 
earthed respecting events which terminated in the 
capture of the city by the British. Considerable space 
has been devoted to the preparations made by both 
sides for the campaign, but as the nature of those 
preparations illustrates the very great importance at- 
tached to the struggle that was to come, it may not 
appear disproportionate. The narrative also is con- 
tinued so as to include the closing incidents of the 
year, without which it would hardly be complete, al- 
though they take us beyond the limits of New York. 
But for the cheerful and in many cases painstaking 
co-operation of those who are in possession of the 
documents referred to, or who have otherwise rendered 
assistance, the preparation of the work could not have 
been possible. The writer finds himself especially under 
obligations to Miss Harriet JE. Henshaw, of Leicester, 
Mass.; Miss Mary Little and Benjamin Hale, Esq., 
Newburyport ; Charles J. Little, Esq., Cambridge ; Mr. 
Francis S. Drake, Roxbury ; Rev. Dr.- 1. N. Tarbox 
and John J. Soren, Boston ; Prof. George Washington 
Greene, East Greenwich, R I. ; Hon. J. M. Addeman, 
Secretary of State of Rhode Island, and Rev. Dr. 
Stone, Providence; Hon. Dwight Morris, Secretary of 
State of Connecticut ; Dr. P. W. Ellsworth and Cap- 
tain John C. Kinney, Hartford ; Miss Mary L. Hunt- 
ington, Norwich; Benjamin Douglas, Esq., Middle- 
town; Mr. Henry M. Scldcn, Haddam Neck; Hon. 
G. II. Ilollister, Bridgeport; Hon. Teunis G. Bergen, 


. — i ^_ 


Mr. Henry E. Pierrcpont, J. Carson Brevoort, Esq., 
Rev. Dr. H. M. Scuddcr, and Mr. Gcrrit H. Van Wag- 
enen, Brooklyn ; Mr. Henry Ondcrdonk, Jr., Jamai- 
ca, L. I. ; Frederick H. Wolcott, Esq., Astoria, L. I. ; 
Hon. John Jay, Charles I. Bushnell, Esq., Miss Troup, 
Mrs. Kernochan, Prof, and Mrs. O. P. Hubbard, Gen. 
Alex. S. Webb, Rev. A. A. Reinke, New York City ; 
Mr. William Kelby, New York Historical Society ; 
Prof. Asa Bird Gardner, West Point ; Hon. W. S. 
Stryker, Adjutant-General, Trenton, N. J.; Richard 
Randolph Parry, Esq., Hon. Lewis A. Scott, and Mr. 
J. Jordan, Philadelphia; Hon. John B. Linn, Harris- 
burg; Mrs. S. B. Rogers and Mr. D. M. Stauffler, 
Lancaster ; Dr. Dalrymple, Maryland Historical Soci- 
ety, Baltimore ; Hon. Cocsar A. Rodney, J. R. Walter, 
and W. S. Boyd, Wilmington, Del.; Oswald Tilgh- 
man, Esq., Easton, Md. ; Hon. Edward McPherson, 
Rev. Dr. John Chester, and Lieutenant-Colonel T. 
Lincoln Casey, Washington ; President Andrews and 
Mr. Holden, Librarian, Marietta College; and Mr. 
Henry E. Parsons and Edward Welles, Ashtabula, 

The cordial and constant encouragement extended 
by the Rev. Dr. Richard S. Storrs, President of the 
Long Island Historical Society, and the interest taken 
in the work by Hon. Henry C. Murphy, Benjamin D. 
Silliman, Esq., and the Librarian, Mr. George Hannah, 
are gratefully acknowledged. 

New York Citv, June, 1878. 







:-; ( 




CHAPTER I. faoi 

Significance of the Campaign — Plans and Preparations 13 

Fortifying New York and Brooklyn 35 

The Two Armies •. 105 

The Battle of Long Island 139 

Retreat to New York 207 


Loss of New York — Kip's Bay Affair — Battle ok Harlem 
Heights 225 

White Plains — Fort Washington 263 

Trenton— Princeton — Close of the Campaign 2S7 




List of Documents : 

No. i. General Greene's Orders — Camp on Long Island 5 

"2. General Sullivan's Orders — Camp on Long Island 27 

" 3. General Orders 30 

" 4. Washington to the Massachusetts Assembly 32 

" 5. General Parsons to John Adams 33 

" 6. General Scott to John Jay 36 

" 7. Colonel Joseph Trumbull to his Brother 40 

" 8. Colonel Trumbull to his Father 41 

" 9. Colonel Moses Little to his Son 42 

"10. Lieutenant-Colonel Hcnshaw to his Wife 44 

" 11. Deposition by Lieutenant-Colonel Hcnshaw 47 

" 12. Colonel Edward Hand to his Wife 48 

"13. Major Edward Burd to Judge Yeates 48 

"14. Lieutenant Jasper Ewing to Judge Yeates 49 

"15. John Ewing to Judge Yeates 50 

"16. Colonel Haslet to Cajsar Rodney 51 

"17. Colonel G. S. Silliman to his Wife 52 

"18. Colonel Silliman to Rev. Mr. Fish 57 

"19. Account of the Battle of Long Island 58 

"20. Journal of Colonel Samuel Miles 60 

"21. Lieutenant-Colonel John Brodhcad to 63 

"22. Colonel William Douglas to his Wife 66 

"23. General Woodhull to the New York Convention 73 

"24. General Washington to Abraham Yates 74 

"25. Colonel Hitchcock to Colonel Little 75 

" 26. Major Tallmadge's Account of the Battles of Long Island 

and White Plains 77 

"27. Account of Events by Private Martin 81 

"28. Captain Joshua Huntington to 84 

"29. Captain Tench Tilghman to his Father 85 

" 30. Captain John Gooch to Thomas Faycnvcathcr 88 

" 31. Account of the Retreat from New York and Affair of 

Harlem Heights, by Colonel David Humphreys 89 

" 32. Testimony Respecting the Retreat from New York 92 




No. 33. Major Baurmcister's Narrative 95 

" 34. Colonel Chester to Joseph Webb 98 

" 35. Colonel Glover to his Mother 99 

" 36. General Greene to Colonel Knox 100 

" 37. Diary of Rev. Mr. Shcwkirk, Moravian Pastor, New York 101 

" 38. Major Fish to Richard Varick 127 

" 39. Surgeon Eustis to Dr. Townsend 129 

" 40. Captain Nathan Hale to his Brother 131 

" 41. Extract from a Letter from New York 132 

" 42. Extracts from the London Chronicle 133 

" 43. Extract from the Memoirs of Colonel Rufus Putnam 136 

" 44. Scattering Orders by Generals Lee, Spencer, Greene, and 

Nixon 141 

" 45. General Lee to Colonel Chester 145 

" 46. Captain Bradford's Account of the Capture of General Lee 146 

" 47. General Oliver Wolcott to his Wife 147 

•' 48. Captain William Hull to Andrctv Adams 151 

" 49. Colonel Knox to his Wife 152 

" 50. Colonel Haslet to Cajsar Rodney 156 

" 51. Journal of Captain Thomas Rodney 158 

" 52. Position of the British at the Close of the Campaign 162 

" 53. Narrative of Lieutenant Jabcz Fitch 167 

" 54. Extract from the Journal of Lieutenant William McPher- 

son 168 

" 55. Deposition of Private Foster 169 

" 56. Letters from Captain Randolph, of New Jersey 170 

" 57. Extract from the Journal of Captain Morris 172 

" 58. British Prisoners Taken on Long Island 174 

" 59. A Return of the Prisoners Taken in the Campaign 175 

'• 60. List of American Officers Taken Prisoners at the Battle 

of Long Island 176 

" 61. List of American Non-Commissioncd Officers and Sol- 
diers Taken Prisoners, Killed, or Missing, at the Battle 

of Long Island 1S0 

Biographical Sketches 1S7 

The Mais 193 

Tin: Portraits 195 

Index 197 



x. New York, Brooklyn, and Environs in 1776. 

2. Plan of the Battle of Long Island and the Brooklyn Defences. 

3. President Stiles' Sketch of the Brooklyn Works. 

4. Ewing's Draught of the Long Island Engagement. 

5. Map of New York City and of Manhattan Island, with the 

American Defences. 

6. Field of the Harlem Heights "Affair." 



1. John Lasher, Colonel First New York City Battalion. 

2. Edward Hand, Colonel First Continental Regiment, Pennsyl- 


3. John Glover, Colonel Fourteenth Continental Regiment, Mas- 


4. Jedediah Huntington, Colonel Seventeenth Continental Regi- 

ment, Connecticut. 








" OUR affairs are hastening fast to a crisis ; and the ap- 
proaching campaign will, in all probability, determine for- 
ever the fate of America." 

So wrote John Hancock, President of Congress, June 4th, 
1776, to the governors and conventions of the Eastern and 
Middle colonics, as, in the name of that body, he reminded 
them of the gravity of the struggle on which they had en- 
tered, and urged the necessity of increasing their exertions 
for the common defence. That this was no undue alarm, 
published for effect, but a well-grounded and urgent warning, 
to the country, is confirmed by the situation at the time 
and the whole train of events that followed. The campaign 
of 1776 did indeed prove to be a crisis, a turning-point, in 
the fortunes of the Revolution. It is not investing it with 
an exaggerated importance, to claim that it was the decisive 
period of the war; that, whatever anxieties and fears were 
subsequently experienced, this was the year in which the 
greatest dangers were encountered and passed. " Should 
the united colonics be able to keep their ground this cam- 
paign," continued Hancock, "I am under no apprehensions 

14 CAMPAIGN OF 1 7/6. 

on account of any future one." " We expect a very bloody 
summer in New York and Canada," wrote Washington to 
his brother John Augustine, in May; and repeatedly, through 
the days of preparation, he represented to his troops what 
vital interests were at stake and how much was to depend 
upon their discipline and courage in the field. 

But let the significance of the campaign be measured by 
the record itself, to which the following pages are devoted. 
It will be found to have been the year in which Great Britain 
made her most strenuous efforts to suppress the colonial 
revolt, and in which both sides mustered the largest forces 
raised during the war; the year in which the issues of the 
contest were clearly defined and America first fought for 
independence ; a year, for the most part, of defeats and losses 
for the colonists, and when their faith and resolution were 
put to the severest test ; but a year, also, which ended with 
a broad ray of hope, and whose hard experiences opened 
the road to final success. It was the year from which we 
date our national existence. A period so interesting and, 
in a certain sense, momentous is deserving of illustration 
with every fact and detail that can be gathered. 

What was the occasion or necessity for this campaign ; 
what the plans and preparations made for it both by the 
mother country and the colonies? 

The opening incidents of the Revolution, to which these 
questions refer us, are a familiar chapter in its history. On 
the morning of the 19th of April, 1775, an expedition of 
British regulars, moving out from Boston, came upon a 
company of provincials hastily forming on Lexington Com- 
mon, twelve miles distant. The attitude of these coun- 
trymen represented the last step to which they had been 



driven by the aggressive acts of the home Parliament. Up 
to this moment the controversy over colonial rights and 
privileges had been confined, from the days of the Stamp 
Act, to argument, protest, petition, and legislative proceed- 
ings; but these failing to convince or conciliate either party, 
it only remained for Great Britain to exercise her authority 
in the case with force. 

The expedition in question had been organized for the 
purpose of seizing the military stores belonging to the Mas- 
sachusetts Colony, then collected at Concord, and which 
the king's authorities regarded as too dangerous material to 
be in the hands of the people at that stage of the crisis. 
The provincials, on the other hand, watched them jealously. 
King and Parliament might question their rights, block 
up their port, ruin their trade, proscribe their leaders, 
and they could bear all without offering open resistance. 
But the attempt to deprive them of the means of self-defence 
at a time when the current of affairs clearly indicated that, 
sooner or later, they would be compelled to defend them- 
selves, was an act to which they would not submit, as already 
they had shown on more than one occasion. To no other 
right did the colonist cling more tenaciously at this junc- 
ture than to his right to his powder. The men at Lex- 
ington, therefore, drew up on their village grounds, not 
defiantly, but in obedience to the most natural impulse. 
Their position was a logical one. To have remained quietly 
in their homes would have been a stultification of their 
whole record from the beginning of the troubles; stand 
they must, some time and somewhere. Under the circum- 
stances, a collision between the king's troops and the pro- 
vincials that morning was inevitable. The commander of 
the former, charged with orders to disperse all " rebels," 


1 6 CAMPAIGN OF 1 7/6. 

made the sharp demand upon the Lexington company in- 
stantly to lay down their arms. A moment's confusion and 
delay — then scattering shots — then a full volley from the 
regulars — and ten men fell dead and wounded upon the 
green. Here was a shock, the ultimate consequences of 
which few of the participants in the scene could have fore- 
cast ; but it was the alarm-gun of the Revolution. 

Events followed rapidly. The march of the British to Con- 
cord, the destruction of the stores, the skirmish at the bridge, 
and, later in the day, the famous road-fight kept up by the 
farmers down to Charlestown, ending in the signal demoral- 
ization and defeat of the expedition, combined with the 
Lexington episode to make the 19th of April' an historic 
date. The rapid spread of the news, the excitement in 
New England, the uprising of the militia and their hur- 
ried march to Boston to resist any further excursions 
of the regulars, were the immediate consequence of this 

Nor was the alarm confined to the Eastern colonies, 
then chiefly affected. A courier delivered the news in New 
York three days later, on Sunday noon, and the liberty 
party at once seized the public military stores, and pre- 
vented vessels loaded with supplies for the British in Boston 
from leaving port. Soon came fuller accounts of the expe- 
dition and its rout. Expresses carried them southward, and 
their course can be followed for nearly a thousand miles 
along the coast. On the 23d and 24th they passed through 
Connecticut, where at Wallingford the dispatches quaintly 
describe the turning out of the militiamen: " The country 
beyond here are all gone." They reached New York at two 
o'clock on the 25th, and Isaac Low countersigns. Relays 
taking them up in New Jersey, report at Princeton on the 
26th, at " 3.30 a.m." They arc at Philadelphia at noon, and 



" forwarded at the same time." We find them at New 
Castle, Delaware, at nine in the evening; at Baltimore at ten 
on the following night ; at Alexandria, Virginia, at sunset on 
the 29th ; at Williamsburg, May 2d ; and at Edenton, North 
Carolina, on the 4th, with directions to the next Committee 
of Safety : " Disperse the material passages [of the accounts] 
through all your parts." Down through the deep pine 
regions, stopping at Bath and Newbern, ride the horsemen, 
reaching Wilmington at 4 P.M. on the 8th. " Forward it 
by night and day," say the committee. At Brunswick at nine 
the indorsement is entered : " Pray don't neglect a moment 
in forwarding." At Georgetown, South Carolina, where the 
dispatches arrive at 6.30 P.M. on the 10th, the committee 
address a note to their Charleston brethren : " We send you 
by express a letter and newspapers with momentous intelli- 
gence this instant arrived." The news reaching Savannah, 
a party of citizens immediately took possession of the gov- 
ernment powder. 

The wave of excitement which follows the signal of a 
coming struggle was thus borne by its own force through- 
out the length of the colonics. And from the coast the in- 
telligence spread inland as far as settlers had found their 
way. In distant Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, 
men heard it, and began to organize and drill. At Char- 
lotte, North Carolina, they sounded the first note for inde- 
pendence. From many points brave and sympathetic 
words were sent to the people of Massachusetts Bay, and in 
all quarters people discussed the probable effect of the 
startling turn matters had taken in that colony. The like- 
lihood of a general rupture with the mother country now 
came to be seriously entertained. 

Meanwhile the situation to the eastward assumed more 
and more a military aspect. On the 10th of May occurred 





the surprise and capture, by Ethan Allen and his party, of 
the important post of Ticonderoga, where during the sum- 
mer the provincials organized a force to march upon and, if 
possible, secure the Canadas. The Continental Congress 
at Philadelphia, after resolving that the issue had been 
forced upon them by Great Britain, voted to prepare for 
self-defence. They adopted the New England troops, 
gathered around Boston, as a Continental force, and ap- 
pointed Washington to the chief command. Then on the 
17th of June Bunker Hill was fought, that first regular 
action of the war, with its far-reaching moral effect ; and 
following it came the siege of Boston, or the hemming in of 
the British by the Americans, until the former were finally 
compelled to evacuate the city. 

It is here in these culminating events of the spring and 
summer of 1775 that we find the occasion for the prepara- 
tions made by Great Britain for the campaign of 1776. 
Little appreciating the genius of the colonists, underrating 
their resources and capacity for resistance, mistaking also 
their motives, King George and his party imagined that on 
the first display of England's power all disturbance and 
attempts at rebellion across the sea would instantly cease. 
But the sudden transition from peace to war, and the com- 
plete mastery of the situation which the colonists appeared 
to hold, convinced the home government that " the Ameri- 
can business" was no trifling trouble, to be readily settled 
by a few British regiments. As the season advanced, they 
began to realize the fact that General Gage, and then Howe 
succeeding him, with their force of ten thousand choice 
troops, were helplessly pent up in Boston ; that Montreal 
and Quebec were threatened; that colonists in the undis- 
turbed sections were arming; and that Congress was sup- 



planting the authority of Parliament. A more rigorous 
treatment of the revolt had become necessary ; and as the 
time had passed to effect any thing on a grand scale during 
the present year, measures were proposed to crush all oppo- 
sition in the next campaign. Follow, briefly, the course of 
the British Government at this crisis. 

Parliament convened on the 26th day of October. The 
king's speech, with which it opened, was necessarily de- 
voted to the American question, and it declared his policy 
clearly and boldly. His rebellious subjects must be brought 
to terms. "They have raised troops," he said, "and are 
collecting a naval force ; they have seized the public rev- 
enue, and assumed to themselves legislative, executive, and 
judicial powers, which they already exercise, in the most 
arbitrary manner, over the persons and properties of their 
fellow subjects : and although many of these unhappy peo- 
ple may still retain their loyalty, and may be too wise not 
to see the fatal consequence of this usurpation and wish to 
resist it, yet the torrent of violence has been strong enough 
to compel their acquiescence, till a sufficient force shall 
appear to support them. The authors and promoters of 
this desperate conspiracy have, in the conduct of it, derived 
great advantage from the difference of our intentions and 
theirs. They meant only to amuse by vague expressions of 
attachment to the parent state, and the strongest protesta- 
tions of loyalty to me, whilst they were preparing for a gen- \ " 
cral revolt. On our part, though it was declared in your last 
session that a rebellion existed within the province of the 
Massachusetts' Bay, yet even that province we wished 

rather to reclaim than to subdue The rebellious 

.war now levied is become more general, and is manifestly 
carried on for the purpose of establishing an independent 
empire. I need not dwell upon the fatal effects of the suc- 





cess of such a plan It is now become the part 

of wisdom, and (in its effects) of clemency, to put a speedy 
end to these disorders, by the most decisive exertions. 
For this purpose, I have increased my naval establishment, 
and greatly augmented my land forces, but in such a man- 
ner as may be the least burthensome to my kingdoms. I 
have also the satisfaction to inform you, that I have re- 
ceived the most friendly offers of foreign assistance, and if 
I shall make any treaties in consequence thereof, they shall 
be laid before you." 

A stranger in Parliament, knowing nothing of the mcrit$ 
of the controversy, would have assumed from the tone of this 
speech that the home government had been grossly wronged 
by the American colonists, or at least a powerful faction 
among them, and that their suppression was a matter of 
national honor as well as necessity. But the speech was in- 
excusably unjust to the colonists. The charge of design and 
double-dealing could not be laid against them, for the ground 
of their grievances had been the same from the outset, and 
their conduct consistent with single motives ; and if inde. 
pendence had been mentioned at all as yet, it was only as 
an ulterior resort, and not as an aim or ambition. The 
king and the Ministry, on the other hand, were wedded to 
strict notions of authority in the central government, and 
measured a citizen's fidelity by the readiness with which he 
submitted to its policy and legislation. Protests and dis- 
cussion about "charters" and "liberties" were distasteful 
to them, and whoever disputed Parliament in any case 
was denounced as strong-headed and factious. The king's 
speech, therefore, was no more than what was expected 
from him. It reflected the sentiments of the ruling party. 

As usual, motions were made in both houses that an 
humble address in reply be presented to his Majesty, pro- 



fcssing loyalty to his person, and supporting his views and 
measures. The mover in the Commons was Thomas Ack- 
land, who, in the course of his speech at the time, strongly 
urged the policy of coercion, and emphasized his approval 
of it by declaring that it would have been better for his 
country that America had never been known than that " a 
great consolidated western empire" should exist indepen- 
dent of Britain. Lyttlcton, who seconded the motion, was 
equally uncompromising. He objected to making the 
Americans any further conciliatory offers, and insisted that 
they ought to be conquered first before mercy was shown 

The issue thus fairly stated by and for the government 
immediately roused the old opposition, that "ardent and 
powerful opposition," as Gibbon, who sat in the Commons, 
describes it ; and again the House echoed to attack and in- 
vective. Burke, Fox, Conway, Barr6, Dunning, and others, 
who on former occasions had cheered America with their 
stout defence of her rights, were present at this session to 
resist any further attempt to impair them. Of the leading 
spirits, Chatham, now disabled from public service, alone was 

Lord John Cavendish led the way on this side, by mov- 
ing a substitute for Ackland's address which breathed a 
more moderate spirit, and in effect suggested to his Majesty 
that the House review the whole of the late proceedings in 
the colonics, and apply, in its own way, the most effectual 
means of restoring order and confidence there. Of course 
this meant concession to America, and it became the signal 
for the opening of an impassioned debate. Wilkes, Lord 
Mayor of London, poured out a torrent of remonstrances 
against the conduct of the Ministry, who had precipitated 
the nation into " an unjust, ruinous, felonious, and murderous 

22 CAMPAIGN OF 1 7/6. 

war." Sir Adam Fcrgusson, speaking less vehemently and 
with more show of sense, defended the government. What- 
ever causes may have brought on the troubles, the present 
concern with him was how to treat them as they then existed. 
There was but one choice, in his estimation — cither to sup- 
port the authority of Great Britain with vigor, or abandon 
America altogether. And who, he asked, would be bold 
enough to advise abandonment ? The employment of force, 
therefore, was the only alternative ; and, said the speaker, 
prudence and humanity required that the army sent out 
should be such a one as would carry its point and override 
opposition in every quarter — not merely beat the colonists, 
but "deprive them of all idea of resistance." Gov. John- 
stone, rising in reply, reviewed the old questions at length, 
and in the course of his speech took occasion to eulogize the 
bravery of the provincials at Bunker Hill. It was this en- 
gagement, more than any incident of the war thus far, that 
had shown the determination of the " rebels" to fight for 
their rights ; and their friends in Parliament presented it as 
a foretaste of what was to come, if England persisted in 
extreme measures. Johnstone besought the House not to 
wreak its vengeance upon such men as fought that day; for 
their courage was deserving, rather, of admiration, and their 
conduct of forgiveness. Honorable Temple Lutrell fol- 
lowed with an attack upon the " evil counsellors who had 
so long poisoned the car of the Sovereign." Conway, who 
on this occasion spoke with his old fire, and held the close 
attention of the House, called for more information as to 
the condition of affairs in the colonics, and at the same time 
rejected the idea of reducing them to submission by force. 
Barre entered minutely into the particulars and results of 
the campaign since the 19th of April, as being little to 
England's credit, and urged the Ministry to embrace the 


present opportunity for an accommodation with America, or 
that whole country would be lost to them forever. Burke, 
in the same vein, represented the impolicy of carrying on 
the war, and advised the government to meet the colonists 
with a friendly countenance, and no longer allow Great 
Britain to appear like " a porcupine, armed all over with 
acts of Parliament oppressive to trade and America." Fox 
spoke of Lord North as "a blundering pilot," who had 
brought the nation into its present dilemma. Neither Lord 
Chatham nor the King of Prussia, not even Alexander the 
Great, he declared, ever gained more in one campaign than 
the noble lord had lost — he had lost an entire continent. 
While not justifying all the proceedings of the colonists, he 
called upon the Administration to place America where she 
stood in 1763, and to repeal every act passed since that time 
which affected cither her freedom or her commerce. Wed- 
derbumc and Dunning, the ablest lawyers in the House, 
took opposite sides. The former, as Solicitor-General, threw 
the weight of his opinion in favor of rigorous measures, 
and hoped that an army of not less than sixty thousand men 
would be sent to enforce Parliamentary authority. Dun- 
ning, his predecessor in .office, questioned the legality of the 
king's preparations for war without the previous consent of 
the Commons. Then, later in the debate, rose Lord North, 
the principal figure in the Ministry, and whom the Opposi- 
tion held mainly responsible for the colonial troubles, and 
defended both himself and the king's address. Speaking 
forcibly and to the point, he informed the House that, in a 
word, the measures intended by the government were to 
send a powerful sea and land armament against the colonists, 
and at the same time to proffer terms of mercy upon a 
proper submission. "This," said the Minister, "will show 
we arc in earnest, that we arc prepared to punish, but are 



nevertheless ready to forgive; and this is, in my opinion, the 
most likely means of producing an honorable reconciliation." 

But all the eloquence, reasoning and appeal of the Oppo- 
sition failed to have any more influence now than in the earlier 
stages of the controversy, and it again found itself in a hope- 
less minority. Upon a division of the House, the king was 
supported by a vote of 278 to 1 10. The address presented 
to him closed with the words: "We hope and trust that 
we shall, by the blessing of God, put such strength and force 
into your Majesty's hands, as may soon defeat and suppress 
this rebellion, and enable your Majesty to accomplish your 
gracious wish of re-establishing order, tranquillity, and happi- 
ness through all parts of your United Empire." In the 
Mouse of Lords, where Camden, Shelburnc, Rockingham, 
and their compeers stood between America and the Ministry, 
the address was adopted by a vote of 69 to 33. ' 

This powerful endorsement of the king's policy by Par- 
liament, however, cannot be taken as representing the sense 

1 Outside of Parliament, all shades of opinion found expression through 
the papers, pamphlets, and private correspondence. Hume, the historian, 
wrote, October 27th, 1775 : " I am an American in my principles, and wish 
we could-dct them alone, to govern or misgovern themselves as they think 
proper. The affair is of no consequence, or of little consequence to us." 
Hut he wanted those "insolent rascals in London and Middlesex" pun- 
ished for inciting opposition at home. This would be more to the point 
than "mauling the poor infatuated Americans in the other hemisphere." 
William Strahan, the eminent printer, replied to Hume: "I differ from you 
to to cab with regard to America. I am entirely for coercive methods with 
those obstinate madmen." Dr. Robertson, author of The History of America, 
wrote : " If our leaders do not exert the power of the Hritish Empire in its 
full force, the struggle will be long, dubious, and disgraceful. We are past 
the hour of lenitives and half exertions." Early in 1770, Dr. Richard Price, 
the Dissenting preacher, issued his famous pamphlet on the Nature of Civil 
Liberty, the Principles of Government, anil the Justice and Policy of the War, 
which had a great run. Taking sides with the colonists, he said : " It is mad- 
ness to resolve to butcher them. Freemen are not to be governed by force, 
or dragooned into compliance. If capable of bearing to be so treated, it is 
a disgrace to be connected with them." 


of the nation at large. It may be questioned whether even 
a bare majority of the English people were ready to go to 
the lengths proposed in his Majesty's address. The Minis- 
try, it is true, pointed to the numerous ratifying "ad- 
dresses" that flowed in, pledging the support of towns and 
cities for the prosecution of the war. Some were sent from 
unexpected quarters. To the surprise of both sides and 
the particular satisfaction of the king, both Manchester and 
Sheffield, places supposed to be American in sentiment, 
came forward with resolutions of confidence and approval ; 
and in ministerial circles it was made to appear that sub- 
stantially all England was for coercion. But this claim was 
unfounded. As the king predicted, the loyal addresses 
provoked opposition addresses. Edinburgh and Glasgow, 
despite the efforts of their members, refused to address. 
Lynn was said to have addressed, but its members denied 
the assertion, and claimed that the war was unpopular in 
that town. The paper from Great Yarmouth was very 
thinly signed, while Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manches- 
ter, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Dudley, and other places 
sent in counter-petitions against the war. The justices of 
Middlesex unanimously voted that it was expedient to re- 
duce the colonies to a proper sense of their duty ; but at a 
meeting of the freeholders of the same county, held at 
Mile-end, to instruct their members in Parliament, little 
unanimity prevailed, " much clamor arose," a protest was 
entered against the proposed resolutions, and only one of 
the sheriffs consented to sign them all. London, as the 
country well knew, sympathized largely with America, but 
in a manner which nullified her influence elsewhere. Her 
populace was noisy and threatening; Wilkes, hir Lord 
v Mayor, was hated at court; her solid men kept to business. 
"Arc the London merchants," wrote the king to Lord 


26 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

North,' " so thoroughly absorbed in their private interests 
not to feel what they owe to the constitution which has 
enriched them, that they do not either show their willing- 
ness to support, either by an address, or, what I should like 
better, a subscription, to furnish many comforts to the army 
in America ?" An address from this quarter, signed by " re- 
spectable names," he thought might have a good effect, and 
one was presented on October 1 ith, with 941 signatures ; but 
it was entirely neutralized by the presentation, three days 
before, of another address more numerously signed by 
" gentlemen, merchants, and traders of London," in which 
the measures of government were condemned. When the 
point was made in the Commons that the war was a popular 
measure in England, Lutrell promptly replied that he had 
made many a journey through the interior of the country 
during the summer season, and had conversed with "a mul- 
titude of persons widely different in station and descrip- 
tion," only to find that the masses were in sympathy with 
the colonists. The division of sentiment was probably 
correctly represented by Lord Camden early in the year, in 
his observation that the landed interest was almost wholly 
anti-American, while the merchants, tradesmen, and the 
common people were generally opposed to a war.' 

Having voted to push the war in earnest, Parliament pro- 
ceeded to supply the sinews. On November 3d, Lord Bar- 
rington brought in the army estimates for 1776. Fifty-five 
thousand men, he reported, was the force necessary and in- 
tended to be raised for the purposes of the nation, the ordi- 
nary expense of maintainingwhich would be something over 

1 " Correspondence with Lord North." Donne. 

5 U,ion this point Dr. Price said: "Let it he granted, though probably 
far from true, that the majority of the kingdom favor the present measures. 
No (,'ood argument could be drawn from thence against receding." 


£ 1, 300,000. Of these troops, twenty thousand would L s 
retained togarrison Great Britain, ten thousand for the West 
Indies, Gibraltar, Minorca and the coast of Africa, while 
the actual force destined for America was to be increased 
to thirty-four battalions, each of 81 1 men, including two regi- 
ments of light horse, amounting, in the aggregate, to upwards 
of twenty-five thousand men. Harrington, at the same time, 
frankly acknowledged to the 1 louse that these figures showed 
well only on paper, as none of the regiments for America were 
complete, and, what was a still more unwelcome admission, 
that great difficulty was experienced in enlisting new re- 
cruits. Nothing, he said, had been left untried to secure 
them. The bounty had been raised and the standard low- 
ered, and yet men were not forthcoming. Anticipating this 
dearth, he had warned the king of it as early as July, when 
the latter first determined to increase the army. " I wish, 
sir, most cordially," wrote this faithful secretary, " that the 
force intended for North America may be raised in time to 
be sent thither next spring; but I not only fear, but am 
confident, the proposed augmentation cannot possibly be 
raised, and ought not to be depended on." 

Barrington was compelled to give an explanation of this ^ 
state of things, for the point had been made in and out of 
Parliament that few recruits could be had in England, be- 
cause the particular service was odious to the people in gen- 
eral. For the government to admit this would have been^ 
clearly fatal; and Barrington argued, per contra, that the 
scarcity of soldiers was to be traced to other and concurrent _ 
causes. The great influx of real and nominal wealth of re- 
cent years, the consequent luxury of the times, the very 
flourishing state of commerce and the manufactures, and 
the increased employment thus furnished to the lower classes, | 
all contributed to keep men out of the army. Above all, 

28 CAMPAIGN OF 1/76. 

it was represented that the true and natural cause was an 
actual lack of men, which was due chiefly to the late in- 
crease of the militia, who could not be called upon to serve 
except in extreme cases, and who were not available for the 
regular force. Barrington, a veteran in official service, true 
to the king, and justifying the war — though not at all clear 
as to the right of taxing the colonics — no doubt expressed 
his honest convictions in making this explanatory speech to 
the House. There was much, also, that was true in his 
words ; but, whatever the absolute cause, the fact did not 
then, and cannot now escape notice, that in preparing to 
uphold the authority of Parliament, and preserve the in- 
tegrity of her empire in America, Great Britain, in 177-5, 
found it impossible to induce a sufficient number of her 
own subjects to take up arms in her behalf. 

It remained, accordingly, to seek foreign aid. Europe 
must furnish England with troops, or the war must stop. 
The custom of employing mercenaries was ancient, and uni- 
versally exercised on the Continent. Great Britain herself 
had frequently taken foreign battalions into her pay, but 
these were to fight a foreign enemy. It would be a thing 
new in her history to engage them to suppress fellow-English- 
men. But the king regarded war as war, and rebellion a 
heinous offence ; and the character of the troops serving for 
him in this case became a secondary matter. A more serious 
question was where to get them. No assistance could be 
expected from France. Holland declined to lend troops to 
conquer men who were standing out for their rights on their 
own soil. In Prussia, Frederick the Great expressed the 
opinion that it was at least problematical whether America 
could be conquered, it being difficult to govern men byjorce 
at such a distance. " If you intend conciliation," he said 
in conversation to a party of Englishmen, "some of your 


measures arc too rough ; and if subjection, too gentle. In 
short, I do not understand these matters ; I have no colonies. 
I hope you will extricate yourselves advantageously, but I 
own the affair seems rather perplexing." l 

Of all the European powers, Russia and the German 
principalities alone presented a possible field of encourage- 
ment." To the former, King George looked first ; for Eng- 
land's friendly attitude had been of the greatest advantage 
to Russia in her campaigns against Turkey. The king, 
therefore, at an early date, gave directions that Gunning, 
the British Minister at Moscow, should approach the Em- 
press Catherine on the subject of lending aid ; and, on the 
proper occasion, Gunning held an interview with Panin, the 
Russian Prime Minister. Catherine promptly returned what 
appeared to be a very favorable reply. To use Gunning's 
own words communicating Russia's answer : " The empress 
had ordered him (Panin) to give the strongest assurances, 
and to express them in the strongest terms, of her entire 
readiness on this and all other occasions to give his Majesty 
every assistance he could desire, in whatever mode or man- 
ner he might think proper. She embraced with satisfaction 
this occasion of testifying her gratitude to the king and 
nation for the important services she had received in the 
late war — favors she the more valued and should not forget 

1 " A View of Society and Manners in France, Switzerland, and Gcr- 
any." By John Moore, M.D. Lond., 1786. Vol. V., Letter 75. 
8 Respecting sentiment in Europe on American affairs, the English travel- 
ler Moore wrote as follows from Vienna in 1775: " Our disputes with the 
colonics have been a prevailing topic of conversation wherever we have 
been since we left England. The warmth with which this subject is han- 
dled increases every day. At present the inhabitants of the Continent 
seem as impatient as those of Great Hritain for news from the other side of 
the Atlantic ; but with this difference, that here they are all of one mind — 
all praying for success to the Americans, and rejoicing in every piece of 
bad fortune which happens to our army."— Moore's View, etc. Letter 96. 



as they were spontaneously bestowed. . . . We were as 
fully entitled to every succor from her as if the strongest 
treaties subsisted." ' 

Greatly elated by this unequivocal tender of aid, King 
George wrote to the empress in his own hand, thanking her 
for the proffer ; and Gunning at the same time was instructed 
to ask for twenty thousand Russians, and enter into a treaty 
formally engaging their services. If he could not secure 
twenty thousand, he was to get all he could. But Gun- 
ning's negotiations were to fail completely. To his surprise 
and chagrin, when he opened the subject of hiring Russian 
troops, the empress and Panin answered with dignity that 
it was impossible to accommodate him ; that Russia's re- 
lations with Sweden, Poland, and Turkey were unsettled, 
and that it was beneath her station to interfere in a domes- 
tic rebellion which no foreign Power had recognized. This 
sudden change in Catherine's attitude, which without doubt 
was the result of court intrigue,' filled the English king 
with mortification and disappointment, and compelled him 
to seek assistance where he finally obtained it — in the petty 
states of the " Hessian" princes. 

1 " History of England from the Accession of George III. to 1783." By 
J. Adolphus. Vol. II., p. 326. 

* Two views have been expressed in regard to this. The English his- 
torian Adolphus charges Frederick of Prussia and secret French agents 
with having changed Catherine's mind, and he gives apparently good 
authority for the statement. The secret seems to have been known in 
English circles very soon after Catherine's refusal. On November 10th 
Shclburne said in the House of Lords : " There arc Powers in Europe who 
will not suffer such a body of Russians to be transported to America. I 
speak from information. The Ministers know what I mean. Some power 
has already interfered to stop the success of the Russian negotiation." 
Mr. Bancroft, on the other hand, concludes (Vol. V., Chap. L., Rev. Ed.) 
that " no foreign influence whatever, not even that of the King of Prussia, 
had any share in determining the empress ;" and Vcrgcnnes is quoted as 
saying that he could not reconcile Catherine's " elevation of soul with the 
dishonorable idea of trafficking in the blood of her subjects." But since 




Success in this direction compensated in part for the 
Russian failure. What the British agent, Colonel Faucett, 
was able to accomplish, what bargains were struck to obtain 
troops, how much levy money was to be paid per man, and 
how much more if he never returned, is all a notorious 
record. From the Landgrave of Hcssc-Casscl, Faucett 
hired twelve thousand infantry ; from the Duke of Bruns- 
wick, three thousand nine hundred and a small body of 
cavalry; and from the reigning Count of Hanau, a corps 
six hundred and sixty strong. These constituted the 
" foreign troops" which England sent to America with her 
own soldiers for the campaign of 1776. 

The plans for the campaign were laid out on a scale 
corresponding with the preparations. When Sir William 
Howe was sent out to reinforce General Gage at Boston, in 
the spring of 1775, it was assumed by the Ministry that 
operations would be confined to that quarter, and that if 
Massachusetts were once subdued there would be nothing 
to fear elsewhere. But the continued siege of Boston 
changed the military status. Howe was completely locked 
in, and could effect nothing. The necessity of transferring 
the scat of war to a larger field became apparent after 
Bunker Hill, and military plans were broached and dis- 
cussed in the Cabinet, in the army, and in Parliament. 
Lord Barrington, who well knew that men enough could 
not be had from England to conquer the colonies, advo- 
cated operations by sea. An effective blockade of the en- 

Catherinc, four years later, in 1779. proposed to oifcr to give England 
effective assistance in America in order to be assured of her aid in return 
against the Turks, it may be questioned how far "elevation of soul' 
prompted the decision in 1775- (Sec Eaton's "Turkish Empire," p. 400.) 
In view of England's relations with most of the Continental Powers at that 
time, Shclburne and Adolphus have probably given the correct explanation 
of the matter. 




32 CAMPAIGN OF 1 7/6. 

(tire American coast, depriving the colonists of their trade, 
might, in his view, bring them to terms. Mr. Innes, in the 
House, proposed securing a strong foothold in the south, 
below the Delaware, and shutting up the northern ports 
with the fleet. But the basis of the plan adopted appears 
to have been that suggested by Burgoyne at Boston in the 
summer of 1775, and by Howe in January, 1776. "If the 
continent," wrote the former to Lord Rochfort, Secretary 
of State for the Colonies, " is to be subdued by arms, his 
Majesty's councils will find, I am persuaded, the proper ex- 
pedients ; but I speak confidently as a soldier, because I 
speak the sentiments of those who know America best, that 
/ you can have no prospect of bringing the war to a speedy 
conclusion with any force that Great Britain and Ireland 
can supply. A large army of foreign troops such as might 
be hired, to begin their operations up the Hudson River; 
another army, composed partly of old disciplined troops 
and partly of Canadians, to act from Canada ; a large levy 
of Indians, and a supply of arms for the blacks to awe the 
southern provinces, conjointly with detachments of regu- 
lars ; and a numerous fleet to sweep the whole coast, might 
possibly do the business in one campaign." ' To Lord 
" Dartmouth, Howe represented that with an army of twenty 
thousand men, twelve thousand of whom should hold New 
York, six thousand land on Rhode Island, and two thou- 
sand protect Halifax, with a separate force at Quebec, 
offensive operations could be pushed so as to put "a very 
different aspect" on the situation by the close of another 

The plan as finally arranged was a modification of these 
two views. It was decided that Howe should occupy 

1 P'onblanquc s Life of Burgoyne, p. 1 52. 



New York City with the main body of the army, and 
secure that important base; while Carleton, with Bur- 
goyne as second in command, should move down from 
Canada to Ticonderoga and Albany. By concert of ac- 
tion on the part of these forces, New England could be 
effectually cut off from co-operation with the lower 
colonies, and the unity of their movements broken up. 
It was proposed at the same time to send an expedition 
under Lord Cornwallis and Admiral Parker, to obtain a 
footing in Virginia or cither of the Carolinas, and en- 
courage the loyal element in the South to organize, and 
counteract the revolt in that quarter. By carrying out this 
grand strategy, King George and his advisers confidently 
expected to end all resistance in America at one blow. 

Thus Great Britain, instead of attempting to recover her 
authority over the colonists by a candid recognition of 
privileges which they claimed as Englishmen, resolved in 
1775 to enforce it. The government went to war, with the 
nation's wealth and influence at its back, but with only half 
its popular sympathies and moral support. Parliament 
refused to listen to the appeals of its ablest members to try 
the virtues of concession and conciliation. A heavy war 
budget was voted, the Continent of Europe was ransacked 
for troops which could not be enlisted in England, and 
every effort made to insure the complete submission of the 
colonies in 1776. 

How America prepared to meet the coming storm is 
properly the subject of the succeeding chapter of this work. 
But we find her in no position in 1775 to assume the char- 
acter of a public enemy towards the mother country. She 
still claimed to be a petitioner to the king for the redress of 
grievances. If she had taken up arms, it was simply in sclf- 


34 CAMPAIGN OF 1776. 

defence, and these she was ready to lay down the moment 
her rights were acknowledged. A revolution, involving 
separation from England, was not thought of by the mass 
of the American people at this time. The most they hoped 
for was, that by offering a stout resistance to an enforce- 
ment of the ministerial policy they could eventually compel 
a change in that policy, and enjoy all that they demanded 
under the British constitution. Towards the close of the 
year, however, when the intelligence came that the king had 
ignored the last petition from Congress, and had proposed 
extreme war measures, the colonists felt that serious work 
was before them. Independence now began to be more 
generally discussed ; Washington's troops were re-enlisted 
for service through the following year, and Congress took 
further steps for the common defence. 

Future military operations were necessarily dependent 
on the plans to be developed by the British. But as the 
siege of Boston progressed, it became obvious that that 
point at least could not be made a base for the ensuing 
campaign. No other was more likely to be selected by the 

I enemy than New York; and to New York the war finally 


The topography of this new region, the transfer to it of 
the two armies, and the preparations made for its defence 
by the Americans, next claim attention. 




New Yqrk City, in 1776, lay at the end of Manhattan 
Island, in shape somewhat like an arrow-head, with its point 
turned towards the sea and its barbs extended at uneven 
lengths along the East and Hudson rivers. It occupied no 
more space than is now included within the five lower and 
smallest of its twenty-four wards. Excepting a limited dis- 
trict laid out on the east side, in part as far as Grand street, 
the entire town stood below the line of the present Cham- 
bers street, and covered an area less than one mile square. 
Then, as now, Broadway was its principal thoroughfare. 
Shaded with rows of trees, and lined mainly with residences, 
churches, and public-houses, it stretched something more 
than a mile to the grounds of the old City Hospital, near 
Duane street. Its starting-point was the Battery at the end 
of the island, but not the Battery of to-day; for, under the 
system of "harbor encroachments," the latter has more than 
trebled in size, and is changed both in its shape and its uses. 
The city defences at that time occupied the site. Here at 



the foot of Broadway old Fort George had been erected 
upon the base of the older Fort Amsterdam, to guard the 
entrance to the rivers, and with its outworks was the only- 
protection against an attack by sea. It was a square bas- 
tioncd affair, with walls of stone, each face eighty feet in 
length, and within it stood magazines, barracks, and, until 
destroyed by fire, the mansion of the colonial governors. 
For additional security, about the time of the French war, 
an extensive stone battery, with merlons of cedar joists, had 
been built just below the fort along the water's edge, enclos- 
ing the point from river to river, and pierced for ninety-one 
pieces of cannon. 1 

At this period, the city represented a growth of one hun- 
dred and sixty years. Give it a population of twenty-five 
thousand souls * — more rather than less — and line its streets 
with four thousand buildings, and we have its census statis- 
tics approximately. The linear characteristics of the old 
town arc still sharply preserved. Upon the west side, the 
principal streets running to the North River — Chambers, 
Warren, Murray, Barclay, Vcscy, Dey, and Cortlandt — retain 
their names and location ; but the water-line was then 
marked by Greenwich street. The present crowded section 

1 The site of Fort George is now covered In part by the buildings at the 
west corner of the Bowling Green block, where the steamship companies 
have their offices. South and west of this point the Battery is almost entirely 
made-land. (Compare Ratzcr's map of 1767 with the maps recently com- 
piled by the New York Dock Department.) As to oilier old defences of 
the city, Wm. Smith, the historian, writing about 1766, says: " During the 
late war a line of palisadocs was run from Hudson's to the Fast River, at 
the other end of the city [near the line of Chambers street], with block- 
houses at small distances. The greater pari of these still remain as a 
monument of our folly, which cost the province about /'8000." 

' J The last census before the Revolution was taken in 1771, when the 
population of the city and county of New York was returned at 21,863. 
(Doc. Hist, of N. Y., Vol. I.) At the time of the war alarm, in 1775, this 
total must have risen to full 25,000. Philadelphia's population was some- 
what larger ; Boston's, less. 




to the west of it, including Washington and West streets 
and the docks, is built on new ground, made within the cen- 
tury. Behind Trinity Church, and as far down as the Bat- 
tery, the shore rose to a very considerable bluff. Necessa- 
rily, much the greater part of the city then lay east of 
Broadway. The irregular streets to be found on this side 
are relics of both the Dutch and English foundation; of 
their buildings, however, as they stood in 1776, scarcely one 
remains at the present time. New streets have been built 
on the East Riveras well as on the North, materially chang- 
ing the water boundary of this part of the island. Front 
and South streets had no existence at that date. On the 
line of Wall street, the city has nearly doubled in width 
since the Revolution. 

Before its contraction, and in view of its convenience and 
protection from storms, the East River was the harbor 
proper of New York. Most of the docks were on that side, 
and just above Catherine street lay the ship-yards, where at 
times, in colonial days, an eight-hundred-ton West India- 
man might be seen upon the stocks. 

What is now the City Hall Park was called in 1776 " the 
Fields," or " The Common." The site of the City Hall was oc 
cupied by the House of Correction ; the present Hall of Rcc 
ords was the town jail, and the structure then on a line with 
them at the corner of Broadway was the " Bridewell." The 
City Hall of that day stood in Wall street, on the site of the 
present Custom-House, and King's, now Columbia, College 
in the square bounded by Murray, Barclay, Church, and 
West Broadway. Queen, now Pearl, was the principal bus- 
iness street; fashion was to be found in the vicinity of the 
Battery, and Broad and Dock streets; the Vauxhall Gardens 
were at the foot of Rcadc ; and to pass out of town, one 
would have to turn off Broadway into Chatham street, which 
extended through Park Row, and keep on to the Bowery. 


38' CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

John Adams has left us a brief description of New York, 
as he saw it when passing through to the first Congress at 
Philadelphia in- 1774, in company with Cushing, Paine, and 
Samuel Adams. His diary runs : 

" Saturday, Aug. 20. — Lodged at Cock's, at Kingsbridge, a 
pretty place. . . . Breakfasted at Day's [127th street], and 
arrived in the city of New York at ten o'clock, at Hull's, a 
tavern, the sign the Bunch of Grapes. We rode by several 
very elegant country-seats before we came to the city. . . . 
After dinner, Mr. McDougall and Mr. Piatt came, and 
walked with us to every part of the city. First we went to 
the fort, where we saw the ruins of that magnificent building, 
the Governor's house [burned Dec. 29, 1773]. From the 
Parade, before the fort, you have a fine prospect of Hudson 
River, and of the East River, or the Sound, and of the har- 
bor ; of Long Island, beyond the Sound River, and of New 
Jersey beyond Hudson's River. The walk round this fort 
is very pleasant, though the fortifications arc not strong. 
Between the fort and the city is a beautiful ellipsis of land 
[Bowling Green], railed in with solid iron, in the centre of 
which is a statue of his majesty on horseback, very large, 
of solid lead gilded with gold, standing on a pedestal of 
marble, very high. Wv. .hen walked up the Broad Way, a 
fine street, very wide, and in a right line from one end to 
the other of the city. In this route we saw the old Church 
and the new Church [Trinity]. The new is a very magnifi- 
cent building — cost twenty thousand pounds, York curren- 
cy. The prison is a large and a handsome stone building; 
'there arc two sets of barracks. We saw the New York Col- 
lege, which is also a large stone building. A new hospital 
is building, of stone. We then walked down to a ship- 
yard. Then wc walked round through another street, which 
is the principal street of business. Saw the several markets. 


After this we went to the coffee-house, which was full of 
gentlemen ; read the newspapers, etc. . . . The streets 
of this town are vastly more regular and elegant than those 
in Boston, and the houses are more grand, as well as neat. 
They are almost all painted, brick buildings and all." 

Other glimpses we get from English sources. The traveler 
Smyth, while visiting this city during the British occupation, 
has this to say : ' " Nothing can be more delightful than the 
situation of New York, commanding a variety of the most 
charming prospects that can be conceived. It is built 
chiefly upon the East River, which is the best and safest 
harbour, and is only something-more than half a mile wide. 
The North River is better than two miles over to Powlcs 
Hook, which is a strong work opposite to New York, but is 
exposed to the driving of the ice in winter, whereby ships 
are prevented from lying therein during that season of the 
year. The land on the North River side is high and bold, 
but on the East River it gradually descends in a beautiful 
declivity to the water's edge. . . . Amongst the multi- 
tude of elegant seats upon this island, there are three or 
four uncommonly beautiful, viz., Governor Elliot's, Judge 
Jones's, Squire Morris's, and Mr. Batemari's. And opposite, 
upon the Continent, just above Hell-gates, there is a villa 
named Morrisania, which is inferior to no place in the world 
for the beauties, grandeur, and extent of perspective, and 
the elegance of its situation." Eddis, who had been com- 
pelled to leave Maryland on account of his loyal sentiments, 
was hardly less impressed with the city's appearance when 
he stopped here on his way to England in 1777. "The 
capital of this province," he wrote, August l6th, "is situ- 
-" ated on the southern extremity of the island ; on one side 

'"A Tour in the United States," etc. By J. F. D. Smyth. London. 
1 1784- 




40 CAMPAIGN OF 1 7/6. 

runs the North, and on the other the East River, on the 
latter of which, on account of the harbour, the city is prin- 
cipally built. In several streets, trees are regularly planted, 
which afford a grateful shelter during the intense heat of 
the summer. The buildings arc generally of brick, and 
many arc erected in a style of elegance. . . . Previous 
to the commencement of this unhappy war, New York was 
a flourishing, populous, and beautiful town. . . . Not- 
withstanding the late devastation [fire of 1776], there are 
still many elegant edifices remaining, which would reflect 
credit on any metropolis in Europe." ' 

Beyond the limits of the city, Manhattan Island retained 
much of its primitive appearance. Roads, farms, country- 
scats, interspersed it, but not thickly ; and as yet the sali- 
ent features were hills, marshes, patches of rocky land, 
streams, and woods. Just upon the outskirts, midway be- 
tween the rivers, at about the corner of Grand and Centre 
Streets, the ground rose to a commanding elevation on 
the farm of William Bayard, which overlooked the city 
and the island above a distance of more than three miles. 
Further cast, a little north of the intersection of Grand 
and Division Streets, stood another hill, somewhat lower, 
where Judge Jones lived, from which opened an extensive 
view of the East River and harbor. On the west side, on 
this line, the surface sank from Bayard's mount into a 
spreading marsh as far as the Hudson, and over which now 
run portions of Canal and Grand and their cross streets. 
Where wc have the Tombs and surrounding blocks, stood 
the " Fresh Water" lake or " Collect," several fathoms 
deep, with high sloping banks on the north and west, and 
on whose surface were made the earliest experiments in 
steam navigation in 1796. 

1 " Letters from America, 1769-1777." Hy Win. Lddis. London. 


I One nearly central highway, known as the King's 
Bridge or Post Road, ran the entire length of the island. 
Where it left the city at Chatham Square, it was properly 
the Bowerie or Bowery Lane. Continuing along the 
present street by this name, it fell off into the line of 
Fourth Avenue as far as Fourteenth Street, crossed Union 
Square diagonally to Broadway, and kept the course of 
the latter to Madison Square at Twenty-third Street. 
Crossing this square, also diagonally, the road stretched 
along between Fourth and Second Avenues to Fifty-third 
Street, passed east of Second Avenue, and then turning 
westerly entered Central Park at Ninety-second Street. 
Leaving the Park at a hollow in the hills known as 
" McGowan's Pass," just above the house of Andrew 
McGowan, on the line of One Hundred and Seventh 
Street, west of Fifth Avenue, it followed Harlem Lane to 
the end of the island. Here, on the other side of King's 
Bridge, then "a small wooden bridge," 1 the highway di- 
verged easterly to New England and northerly to Albany. 
This portion of the island above the city was known as 
its " Out-ward," and had been divided at an early date 
into three divisions, under the names of the Bowery, Har- 
lem, and Bloomingdale divisions. Each contained points 
of settlement. The Bowery section included that part of 
the city laid out near Fresh Water Pond and around 
Chatham Square below Grand Street, and the stretch of 
country above beyond the line of Twenty-third Street. 
In this division were to be found some of the notable resi- 
dences and country-scats of that day. James Dc Lancey's 
large estate extended from the Bowery to the East River, 

1 " King's Bridge, which joins the northern extremity of this island to the 
continent, is only a small wooden bridge, and the country around is moun- 
tainous, rocky, broken, and disagreeable, but very strong." — Smyth's Tour, 
tic, vol. ii., p. 376. 


42 CAMPAIGN OF 1776. 

and from Division nearly to the line of Houston Street. 
The Rutgers' Mansion stood attractively on the slopes of 
the river bank about the line of Montgomery Street, and 
above Dc Lancey's, on the Bowery, were the De Peysters, 
Dyckmans, and Stuyvesants. 

The Harlem division of the Out-ward, with which are 
associated some of the most interesting events of 1776, in- 
cluded what is now known as Harlem, with the island 
above it as far as King's Bridge. Dutch farmers had 
settled here a hundred years before the Revolution. As 
early as 1658, the Director-General and Council of New 
Netherland gave notice that " for the further promotion 
of Agriculture, for the security of this, -Island, and the 
cattle pasturing thereon, as well as for the greater recrea- 
tion and amusement of this city of Amsterdam in New 
Netherland, they have resolved to form a New Village or 
Settlement at the end of the Island, and about the lands 
of Jochem Pietersen, deceased, and those which adjoin 
thereto." The first settlers were to receive lots to culti- 
vate, be furnished with a guard of soldiers, and allowed a 
ferry across the Harlem River, for " the better and greater 
promotion of neighborly correspondence with the English 
of the North."' In 1776, the division was interspersed 
with houses and fields, especially in the stretch of plains 
or flat land just above One Hundred and Tenth Street, 
and from the East River to the line of Ninth Avenue. 
The church and centre of the village were on the east side, 
in the vicinity of One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street, 
and the old road by which they were reached from the 
city branched off from the main highway at McGowan's 

1 Laws and Ordinances of New Netherlands. 


Bloomingdale was a scattered settlement, containing 
nearly all the houses to be found along the Bloomingdale 
Road, but the name appears to have identified principally 
the upper section beyond Fiftieth Street. Here lived the 
Apthorpes at Ninety-second Street ; the Strikers, Joneses, 
and Hogclands above ; and, lower down, the Somerindykes 
and Harsens. As fixed by law, at that time, this road started 
from the King's Bridge Road, at the house of John Horn, 
now the corner of Twenty-third Street and Fifth Avenue, 
and followed the line of the present Broadway and the 
recent Bloomingdale Road to the farm of Adrian Hogeland, 
at One Hundred and Eighth Street.' Nearly on a line with 
Hogeland, but considerably cast of him, lived Benjamin 
Vandcwater ; and these two were the most northerly resi- 
dents in the division. 

Still another suburb of the city was the village of Green- 
wich, overlooking the Hudson on the west side, in the vicin- 
ity of Fourteenth Street, to which the Greenwich Road, 
now Greenwich Street, led along the river bank in nearly 
a straight line. The road above continued further east 
about as far as Forty-fifth Street, and there connected, by 
a lane running southwesterly, with the Bloomingdale Road 
at Forty-third Street. Among the country-scats in this 
village were those of the Jeaunceys, Bayards, and Clarkcs ; 
and above, at Thirty-third Street and Ninth Avenue, 
stood the ample and conspicuous residence of John Morin 
Scott, one of the leading lawyers of the city, and a power- 
ful supporter of the American cause. 

1 The caption to the act in the case passed 1751, and remaining unchanged 
in 1773, reads: "An Act for mending and keeping in Repair the publick Road 

or Highway, from the House of John Home, in the Howry Division of the Out- 
ward of the City of New York, through the Iiloomendale Division in the said 
ward, to the house of Adrian Hoogelandl." 

44 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

Across the East River, the "Sister City" of Brooklyn 
in 1776 was as yet invisible from New York. A clump of 
low buildings at the old ferry, and an occasional manor- 
scat, were the only signs of life apparent on that side. 
Columbia Heights, whose modern blocks and row of 
wharves and bonded stores suggest commercial activity 
alone, caught the eye a century ago as " a noble bluff," 
crowned with fields and woods, and meeting the water at 
its base with a shining beach. The parish or village 
proper was the merest cluster of houses, nestled in the 
vicinity of the old Dutch church, which stood in the 
middle of the road a little below Bridge Street. The road 
was the King's highway, and it ran from Fulton Ferry — 
where we have had a ferry for two hundred and forty years 
at least — along the line of Fulton Street, and on through 
Jamaica to the eastern end of Long Island. Besides the 
settlements that had grown up at these two points — 
the church and the ferry, which were nearly a mile and a 
half apart — a village centre was to be found at Bedford, 
further up the highway, another in the vicinity of the 
Wallabout, and still another, called Gowanus, along the 
branch road skirting the bay. These all stood within the 
present municipal limits of Brooklyn. 

As it had been for more than a century before, the pop- 
ulation on the Long Island side was largely Dutch at the 
time of the Revolution. The first-comers, in 1636 and 
after, introduced themselves to the soil and the red man 
as the Van Schows, the Cornelissens, the Manjes, and the 
like — good Walloon patronimics — and the Dutch heritage 
is still preserved in the names of old families, and even 
more permanently in the name of the place itself; for the 
word Brooklyn is but the English corruption of Brcuke- 


len, the ancient Holland village ' of which our modern city 
appears to have been the namesake. Smyth, the English 
traveler, makes the general statement towards the close 
of the Revolution, that two thirds of the inhabitants of 
Long Island, especially those on the west end, were of 
Dutch extraction, who continued " to make use of their 
customs and language in preference to English," which, 
however, they also understood. " The people of King's 
County [Brooklyn]," he says, " arc almost entirely Dutch. 
In Queen's County, four fifths of the people arc so like- 
wise, but. the other fifth, and all Suffolk County, arc 
English as they call themselves, being from English anccs- 

1 The Hon. Henry C. Murphy, who visited this place In 1859, says of it : 
"The town lies in the midst of a marshy district, and henco its name ; for 
Brcukclcn — pronounced Brurkclcr — means marsh land." "There arc some 
curious points of coincidence," continues Mr. Murphy, "both as regards 
the name and situation of the Dutch Brcukelcn and our Brooklyn. The 
name with us was originally applied exclusively to the hamlet which grew 
up along the main road now embraced within F«lton Avenue, and between 
Smith Street and Jackson Street ; and we must, therefore, not confound it 
with the settlements at the Waalcbought, Gowanus, and the Ferry, now Ful- 
ton Ferry, which were entirely distinct, and were not embraced within the 
general name of Brooklyn, until after the organization of the township of 
that name by the British Colonial Government. Those of our citizens who 
remember the lands on Fulton Avenue near Ncvins Street and De Kalb 
Avenue before the changes which Wore produced by the filling-in of those 
streets, wiH recollect that their original character was marshy and '.pringy, 
being in fact the bed of the valley which received the drain of the hills extend- 
ing on cither side of it from the Waalebought to Gowanus Bay. This would 
lead to the conclusion that the name was given on account of the locality ; 
but though we have very imperfect accounts as to who were the first settlers 
of Brooklyn proper, still, reasoning from analogy in the cases of New Utrecht 
and New Amcrsfoort, we cannot probably err in supposing that Brooklyn 
owes its name to the circumstance that its first settlers wished to preserve 
in it a memento of their homes in Fatherland. After the English conquest, 
there was a continual struggle between the Dutch and Kirfelish orthography. 
Thusitis spelled Breucklyn, Breuckland, Brticklyn, Broucklyn, Hrook- 
land. Brooklinc, and several other ways. At the end of the last century it 
s <tlcd down into the present Brooklyn. In this form it still retains suffi- 
ciency its original signification of the marsh or brook land" — Stiles' History 
of Brooklyn, vol. i., App v 4. 

46 CAMPAIGN OF 1776. 

tors, and using no other language." Major Baurmcister, 
one of the officers of the Hessian division which partici- 
pated in the battle of Long Island, leaves us something 
more than statistics in the case. He appears to have 
noted every thing with lively appreciation. To a friend 
in Germany, for instance, we find him writing as follows : 
" The happiness of the inhabitants, whose ancestors were 
all Dutch, must have been great ; genuine kindness and 
real abundance is everywhere; any thing worthless or 
going to ruin is nowhere to be perceived. The inhabited 
regions resemble the Westphalian peasant districts ; upon 
separate farms the finest houses are built, which are 
planned and completed in the most elegant fashion. The 
furniture in them is in the best taste, nothing like which is 
to be seen with us, and besides so clean and neat, that 
altogether it surpasses every description. The female sex 
is universally beautiful and delicately reared, and is finely 
dressed in the latest European fashion, particularly in 
India laces, white cotton and silk gauzes ; not one of these 
women but would consider driving a double team the 
easiest of work. They drive and ride out alone, having 
only a negro riding behind to accompany them. Near 
every dwelling-house negroes (their slaves) are settled, 
who cultivate the most fertile land, pasture the cattle, and 
do all the menial work." 1 That the English element, how- 
ever, had crept in to a considerable extent around Brook- 
lyn at this time, is a matter of record. 

The topography of this section of Long Island was pecu- 
liar, presenting strong contrasts of high and low land. 
Originally, and indeed within the memory of citizens still 

1 Part II., Document 33. On flic other hand, some later English descrip- 
tions are not as pleasant ; but the wretchedness the writcio saw during the 
war was what the war had caused. 



living, that part of Brooklyn lying south and west of 
the l ; ne of Nevins Street was practically a peninsula, 
with the Wallabout Bay or present Navy Yard on one 
side of the neck, and on the other, a mile across, the ex- 
tensive Gowanus creek and marsh, over which now run 
Second, Third, and Fourth Avenues. The creek set in 
from the bay where the Gowanus Canal is retained, and 
rendered the marsh impassable at high-water as far as the 
line of Baltic Street. Blocks of buildings now stand on 
the site of mills that were once worked by the ebb and 
flow of the tides. The lower part of what is known as 
South Brooklyn was largely swamp land in 1776. Here 
the peninsula terminated in a nearly isolated triangular 
piece of ground jutting out into the harbor, called Red 
Hook, which figured prominently in the military opera- 
tions. From this projection to the furthest point on the 
Wallabout was a distance of three miles, and the scenery 
along the bank presented a varied and attractive appear- 
ance to the resident of New York. The " heights" rose 
conspicuously in all the beauty of their natural outline ; 
lower down the shore might be seen a quaint Dutch mill 
or two ; on the bluffs opposite the Battery, the mansions 
of Philip and Robert Livingston were prominent; and 
not far from where the archway crosses Montague Street 
stood the Rcmscn and, nearer the ferry, the Coldcn and 
Middagh residences. From every point of view the per- 
spective was rural and inviting.' 

1 In describing some of the characteristic features of Longlsland, Smyth, 
the traveler already quoted, mentions what seemed to hiiii ' two very ex- 
traordinary places." " The first," he says, " is a very dangerous and dread- 
ful strait or passage, called Hell-Gales, between the East River and the 
Sound ; where the two tides meeting cause a horrible whirlpool, the vortex 
of which is called the Pot, and drawing in and swallowing up every thing 
that approaches near it, dashes them to pieces upon the rocks at the bot- 
tom. . . . Before the late war, a top-sail vessel was seldom cv..- known to pass 


Vastly changed to-day is all this region, which was now 
to be disturbed by the din and havoc of war. Its pic- 
turcsqucness long since disappeared. Upon Manhattan 
Island, the city's push " uptown"-ward has been like the 
cut of a drawing knife, a remorseless process of levelling 
and " filling-in." Forty times in population and twenty 
in area has it expanded beyond the growth of 1776. 
Brooklyn is a new creation. Would its phlegmatic 
denizen of colonial times recognize the site of his farms 
or his mills? Even the good Whig ferryman, Waldron, 
might be at a loss to make out his bearings, for the green 
banks of the East River have vanished, and its points be- 
come confused. The extent of its contraction he could 
learn from the builders of the bridge, who have set the 
New York pier eight hundred feet out from the high-water 
mark of 1776, and the Brooklyn pier two hundred or 
more, narrowing the stream at that point to a strait of but 
sixteen hundred feet in width. 

The first active steps looking to the occupation of New 
York were taken by the Americans early in January of 
this year. Reports had reached Washington's head- 
through Hcll-Gatcs ; but since the commencement of it, fleets of transpyrts, 
with frigates for their convoy, have frequently ventured and accompl ihed 
it ; the Niger, indeed, a very fine frigate of thirty-two guns, generally struck 
on some hidden rock, every time she attempted this passage. Hut what is 
still more extraordinary, that daring veteran, Sir James Wallace, to the 
astonishment of every person who ever saw or heard of it, carried his Maj- 
esty's ship, the Experiment, of fifty guns, safe through Hc<W>atcs, from the 
east end of the Sound to New York ; when the French licet under 
D'Estaing lay ofT Sandy Hook, and blocked up the harbor and city of New 
York, some ships of the line being also sent by D'Estaing round the cast 
end of Long Island to cruise in the Sound for the same purpose, so that 
the Experiment must inevitably have fallen into their hands, had it not 
been for this bold and successful attempt of her gallant commander." The 
other spot was Hempstead Plains, which presented the" singular phenom- 
enon," for America, of having no trees. 


quarters that the British were fitting out an expedition 
by sea, whose destination was kept a profound secret. 
In Boston, rumors were afloat that it was bound for Hali- 
fax or Rhode Island. In reality it was the expedition 
with which Sir Henry Clinton was to sail to >\orth Caro- 
lina, and there meet Cornwallis, from England, to carry 
out the southern diversion. Ignorant of the British plans, 
and suspecting that ClintorT might suddenly appear at 
New York, Washington on the 4th of January called the 
attention of Congress to the movement, and suggested 
that it would be "consistent with prudence" to have some 
New Jersey troops thrown into the city to prevent the 
"almost irremediable" evil which would follow its occupa- 
tion by the enemy. Two days later, General Charles Lee, 
holding rank in the American army next to, Washington, 
pressed a plan of his own, to the effect that he be sent 
himself by the commander-in-chief to secure New York, 
and that the troops for the purpose (there being none to 
spare from the force around Boston) be hastily raised in 
Connecticut. This was approved at head-quarters, and 
on the 8th inst. Lee received instructions as follows : 

" Having undoubted intelligence of the fitting out of a fleet at 
Bdston, and of the embarkation of troops from thence, which, from 
the season of the year and other circumstances, must be destined for 
a southern expedition; and having such information as I can rely 
on, that the inhabitants, or a great part of them, on Long Island in 
the colony of New York, are not only inimical to the rights and lib- 
erties of America, but by their conduct and public professions have 
discovered a disposition to aid and assist in the reduction of that 
colony to ministerial tyranny ; and as it is a matter of the utmost 
importance to prevent the enemy from taking possession of the City 
of New York and the North River, as they will thereby command the 
country, and the communication with Canada — it is of too much 
consequence to hazard such a post at so alarming a crisis. . . . 

" You will therefore, with such volunteers as are willing to join you, 

50 CAMPAIGN OK 1 776. 

and can be expeditiously raised, repair to the City of New York, and 
calling upon the commanding officer of the forces of New Jersey for 
such assistance as he can afford, and you shall require, you are to 
put that city into the best posture of defence which the season and 
circumstances will admit, disarming all such persons upon .£ong 
Island and elsewhere (and if necessary otherwise securiig them), 
whose conduct and declarations have rendered them justly suspected 

of designs unfriendly to the views of Congress I am persuaded 

I need not recommend dispatch in the prosecution of this business. 
The importance of it alone is a sufficient incitement." ' 

Washington wrote at the same time to Governor 
Trumbull, of Connecticut, Colonel Lord Stirling-, of New 
Jersey, and the New York Committee of Safety, urging 
them to give Gen. Lee all the assistance in their power. 

Lee, who had been an officer inthe British army, serv- 
ing at one time under Burgoyne in Portugal, had already 
established a reputation for himself in Washington's camp 
as a military authority, and enjoyed the full confidence of 
the commander-in-chief, despite certain eccentricities of 
manner and an over-confidence in his own judgment and 
experience. The defects and weaknesses of his character, 
which eventually brought him into disgrace as a soldier, 
were not as yet displayed or understood. At the present 
time he was eager to be of essential service to the colonics, 
and he entered into the New York project with spirit. In 
Connecticut the governor promptly seconded his efforts, 
by calling out two regiments of volunteers to serve for six 
weeks under the general, and appointed Colonels David 

1 Washington had some misgivings as to his authority to assume mili- 
tary control of New York, and he sought the advice of John Adams, who 
was then at Watcrtown. The latter replied without hesitation that under 
his commission as commander-in-chief lie had full authority. To Presi- 
dent Hancock, Washington wrote : " I hope the Congress will approve of 
my conduct in sending General Lee upon this expedition. I am sure I 
mean it well, as experience teaches us that it is much easier to prevent 
an enemy from posting themselves, than it is to dislodge them after they 
have got possession." 

I I 


Waterbury, of Stamford, and Andrew Ward, of Guilford, 
to their command. By the 20th, Lee found himself ready 
to proceed ; but while on his way, near Stamford, he 
i received a communication from the Committee of Safety 

at New York, representing that the rumors of his coming 
had created great alarm in the city, and earnestly re- 
questing him to halt his troops on the Connecticut border, 
until his object were better known to the committee. 
Here was something of a dilemma, and it may be asked 
how it should have arisen. Why, indeed, was it necessary 
to organize a force outside of New York to secure it ? 
Was not this the time for the city to prepare for her 
defence, and welcome assistance from whatever quarter 
offered ? The answer is to be found in the exceptional 
political temperament of New York at this time. Her 
population contained a large and powerful loyalist ele- 
ment, which hoped, with the assistance of the three or 
four British men-of-war then in the harbor, to be able to 
give the place, at the proper moment, into the hands of the 
king's troops. Only a short time before, Governor Tryon 
had informed Howe that it only needed the presence of a 
small force to secure it, and develop a strong loyal support 
among the inhabitants of both the city and colony. The 
patriotic party had abated none of its zeal, but it recognized 
the danger of precipitating matters, and accordingly pur- 
sued what appeared to colonists elsewhere to be a tem- 
porizing and timid policy, but wh : *}h proved the wisest 
course in the end. The city was at the mercy of the men- 
of-war. Any attempt to seize it could be answered with 
a bombardment. The situation required prudent man- 
agement; above all, it required delay on the part of the 
Americans until they were ready for a decisive step. That 
the Committee of Safety was thoroughly true to thecoun- 

52 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

try, no one can doubt a moment after reading their daily 
proceedings. In their letter to Lee they say: " This com- 
mittee and the Congress whose place we fill in their recess, 
arc, we flatter ourselves, as unanimously zeal jus in the 
cause of America as any representative body on the con- 
tinent: so truly zealous, that both the one and the other 
will cheerfully devote this city to sacrifice for advancing 
that great and important cause." But knowing the state of 
affairs in their midst better than others, they urged caution 
instead of haste in bringing the war to New York. In this 
case, they informed Lee that no works had been erected in 
the city, that they had but little powder, that they were 
sending out ships for more without molestation from the 
men-of-war, their object being kept secret, and that a gen- 
eral alarm then in the dead of winter, driving women and 
children into the country, would work great distress. " For 
these reasons," continue the committee, " we conceive 
that a just regard to the public cause, and our duty to 
take a prudent care of this city, dictate the impropriety 
of provoking hostilities at present, and the necessity of 
saving appearances with the ships of war till at least the 
month of March. Though we have been unfortunate in 
our disappointments with respect to some of our adven- 
tures, yet be assured, sir, we have not been idle. Our 
intrenching tools are almost completed to a sufficient 
number ; we are forming a magazine of provisions for 
five thousand men for a month in a plp.Qe of safety, and 
at a convenient distance from this city; we have pro- 
vided ourselves with six good brass field-pieces; have 
directed carnages to be made for our other artillery, 
and arc raising a company of artillery for the defence 
of the colony on the Continental establishment. These 
things, when accomplished, with other smaller matters, 


and with the arrival of some gunpowder,' the prospect of 
which is not unpromising, will enable us to face our ene- 
mies with some countenance." Lee, with due considera- 
tion, replied to the committee that he should comply with 
their request about the troops, and do nothing that could 
endanger the city. 

It was not until the 4th of February that the general 
entered New York. On the same day Clinton arrived 
in the harbor from Boston, with his southern expedi- 
tion, but only to make a brief stay. The coming of 
these officers threw the city into great excitement. 
Many of the inhabitants expected an immediate col- 
lision, and began to leave the place. One Garish Har- 
sin, writing from New York to William Radclift at Rhyn 
Beck, sums up in a single sentence the effect of the har- 
bor news :' " It is impossible to describe the confusion the 
place was in on account of the regulars being come." And 
when rumors magnified Clinton's two or three transports 
into a British fleet of nineteen sail, Harsin informs his 
friend that the people were taking themselves out of 
town " as if it were the Last Day." Pastor Shewkirk, 
of the Moravian Church, in his interesting diary' of pass- 
ing events, tells us that " the inhabitants began now to 
move away in a surprising manner," and that " the whole 
aspect of things grew frightful, and increased so from day 
to day." To add to the discomfort and suffering of the 
people, the weather was very cold, and the rivers full of 

The Committee of Safety, in their anxiety as to the effect 
of Lee's occupation of the city, had already written to the 

1 " New York in the Revolution." Published by the New York Mer- 
cantile Library Association. 
5 Part II., Document 37. 

54 campaign or 1776. 

Continental Congress on the subject, and that body at 
once sent up a committee, consisting of Messrs. Harrison, 
Lynch, and Allen, to advise with Lee and the New York 
Committee. The latter accepted the situation, consented 
to the entry of the troops into town, and at a conference 
with Lee and the Congress Committee on the 6th, agreed 
to the immediate prosecution of defensive measures. 

Upon his arrival, the general sent his engineer, Captain 
William Smith, " an excellent, intelligent, active officer," 
to survey and report upon the salient points of the posi- 
tion, especially around Hell Gate and on Long Island. 
Lee and Stirling also went over the ground several times. 
As a result of these inspections, the general became con- 
vinced that to attempt a complete defence of the city 
would be impracticable, because the ample sea-room 
afforded by the harbor and rivers gave the enemy every 
advantage, enabling them, with their powerful fleet, to 
threaten an attack in front and flank. Lee saw this at 
once, and reported his views to Washington, February 
19th. " What to do with the city," he wrote, " I own, puz- 
zles me. It is so encircled with deep navigable waters, 
that whoever commands, the sea must command the 
town ;" and to the New York Committee ne said that it 
would be impossible to makcthe place absolutely secure. 
In view of this, he proposed to construct a system of 
defences that should have an alternative object, namely, 
that in case they should prove inadequate for the city's 
protection, they should at least be sufficient to prevent 
the enemy from securing a permanent foothold in it. 

Under this plan, the line of the East River required 
the principal attention, as here it seemed possible to offer 
the best resistance to British attempts upon the city. 


First, to cut off the enemy's communication between the 
Sound and the river, it was proposed to blockade the pas- 
sage at Hell Gate by a fort on Horn's Hook, at the foot 
of East Eighty-eighth Street, as well as by works opposite, 
on the present Mallet's Point. A further object of these 
forts was to secure safe transit between Long Island and 
New York. In the next place, batteries were planned for 
both sides of the river at its entrance into the harbor, 
where the city was chiefly exposed. On the New York 
side, a battery was located at the foot of Catherine 
Street at the intersection of Cherry, and where the river 
was narrowest. This was called Waterbury's Battery. 
To cover its fire a stronger work was ordered to be built 
on Rutgers' " first hill," just above, which was named 
Badlam's Redoubt, after Captain Badlam, then acting as 
Lee's chief artillery officer. Lower down a battery was 
sunk in a cellar on Ten Eyck's wharf, Cocnties Slip, a 
short distance below Wall Street, and called Coenties Bat- 
tery. These three, with part of the Grand Battery and 
Fort George, included all the works planned by Lee to 
guard the East River from the New York side. 

In'conncction with these, works were laid out on the 
bank opposite on Long Island, the importance of which 
was apparent. Not only was the site well adapted for 
guns to sweep the channel and prevent the enemy's ships 
from remaining in the river long enough to do the city 
serious damage, but it also commanded the city, so as to 
make it untenable by the British should they succeed in 
occupying it. This bluff, "Columbia Heights," was in 
fact the key to the entire situation. Lee considered its 
possession and security of " greater importance" than New 
York; and to hold it he proposed establishing there an 



intrenched camp' for three or four thousand men, fortified 
by " a chain of redoubts mutually supporting each other." 
Of these redoubts, one was located on the edge of the 
bluff opposite the Coenties Batter}', and stood on the line 
of Columbia Street, at about the foot of the present Clark 
Street. This came to be known as Fort Stirling. In its 
rear, near the corner of Henry and Pierrepont streets, it 
was proposed to erect a large citadel ; but this, although 
begun, was never completed.' Lee's scheme of defence 
did not include the fortifying of either Red Hook or 
Governor's Island. 

The East River thus provided for, attention was paid 
to the city and the North River side. Lee examined Fort 
George and the Grand Battery, but gave it as his opinion 
that neither of them could be held under the concentrated 
fire of large ships. He advised, accordingly, that the 
northern face of the fort be torn down, and a traverse 
built across Broadway above it at the Bowling Green, 
from which the interior of the work could be raked, should 
the enemy attempt to land and hold it. As the North 
River was " so extremely wide and deep," the general 
regarded the obstruction of its passage to the ships as 
out of the question. Batteries, however, could be erected 
at various points along the west side where it rose to a 
ridge, and the power of the ships to injure the town very 
considerably diminished. All the streets leading up from 
the water were ordered to be barricaded to prevent the 

1 Lcc wrote to Washington, February 19th : "I wait for some more force to 
prepare a post or retrenched encampment on Long Island, opposite to (lie 
city, for 3(xx> men. This is, I think, a capital object ; for, should the enemy 
lake possession of New York, when Long Island is in our hands, they will 
find it almost impossible to subsist." 

'' The location and strength of Fort Stirling, the citadel, and the other 
works on Long Island, are noted more in detail further along in this 


enemy from coming up on the flanks; forts were to be 
erected on Jones', Bayard's, and Lispenard's hills, north 
of the town, covering the approach by land from that di- 
rection ; the roads obstructed to artillery ; and redoubts, 
redans, and fleches thrown up at defensible points through- 
out the entire island, as far as King's Bridge.' " I must 
observe," said Lee to the Committee of Safety, " that New 
York, from its circumstances, can with difficulty be made 
a regular tenable fortification ; but it may be made a most 
advantageous field of battle— so advantageous, indeed, 
that, if our people behave with common spirit, and the 
commanders are men of discretion, it must cost the enemy 
many thousands of men to get possession of it." 

To construct these extensive works Lee could muster, 
two weeks after his arrival, but seventeen hundred men. 
Waterbury's Connecticut regiment was first on the ground ; 
the First New Jersey Continentals, as yet incomplete, under 
Colonel the Earl of Stirling, soon followed ; and from West- 
chester County, New York, came two hundred minute- 
men under Colonel Samuel Drake. Dutchess County sent 
down Colonels Swartwout and Van Ness with about three 
hundred more ; and on the 24th Colonel Ward arrived with 
his Connecticut regiment, six hundred strong, which had 
rendezvoused at Fairfield. Stirling's regiment was quar- 
tered principally in the lower barracks at the Battery ; 
Waterbury's at the upper, on the site of the new Court 

1 "Feb. 23'', 1776. — . . . General Lee is taking every necessary step to 
fortify and defend this city. The men-of-war arc gone out of our harbor ; 
the Phccnix is at the Hook ; the Asia lays near Iiccdlow's Island ; so that we 
arc now in a state of perfect peace and security, was it not for our appre- 
hensions of future danger. To sec the vast number of houses slut up, one 
would think the city almost evacuated. Women and children arc scarcely 
to be seen in the streets. Troops arc daily coming in ; they break open 
and quarter themselves in any houses they find shut up. Necessity knows 
no law." — Letter from I-'. Rhinelander. " Life of J'eter Van Schaack." 



House ; Ward's was sent to Long Island ; and Drake's 
minute-men were posted at Horn's Hook, opposite Hell 
Gate, where they began work on the first battery marked 
out for the defence of New York City during the Revolu- 

But Lee's stay at this point was to be brief. The Con- 
tinental Congress appointed him to the command of the 
newly created Department of the South, and on the 7th of 
March he left New York in charge of Lord Stirling, who, 
a month , before, had been promoted by Congress to the 
rank of brigadier -general. This officer's energy was 
conspicuous. ''His predecessor had already found him "a 
great acquisition"," and he pushed on the defences of 
the city- as • rkpidly as his resources would permit. The 
force under his immediate command, according to the 
returns of the 13th, amounted to a total of two thousand 
four hundred and twenty-two officers and men, 1 besides 
the city independent companies under Colonels John 
Lasher and William Heycr,and local militia,* wlip swelled 
the number to about four thousand. On the 14th, Wash- 
ington wrote to' Stirling that the enemy appeared to be 
on the point of evacuating Boston, and that it was more 
than probable they would sail southward. " I am, of 
opinion," he wrote, " that New York is their place of 
destination. It is an object worthy of their attention, and 
it is the place that we must ubc every endeavor to keep 
from them. For, should they get that town, and the com- 
mand of the North River, they can stop the intercourse 


1 Privates present fit for duty: Stirling's regiment, 407 ; Watcrbury's, 
457 ; Ward's, 489 ; Drake's, 104 ; Swartwout's, 186 ; Van Ness', 110 ; Cap- 
tain Lcdyard's company, N. Y., 64. 

* In the chapter on "The Two Armies," some further account is given 
of the troops furnished during the campaign by New York and the Brook- 
lyn villages. 

. w 

3775. 1776, 

•I ' .nKiU.ll. NY 


between the Northern and Southern colonies, upon which 
depends the safety of America. My feelings upon this 
subject arc so strong, that I would not wish to give the 
enemy a chance of succeeding at your place. . . . The 
plan of defence formed by General Lee is, from what 
little I know of the place, a very judicious one. I hope, 
nay, I dare say, it is carrying into execution with spirit 
and industry. You may judge of the enemy's keeping so 
long possession of the town of Boston against an army 
superior in numbers, and animated with the noble spirit 
of liberty ; I say, you may judge by that how much easier 
it is to keep an enemy from forming a lodgment in a 
place, than it will be to dispossess them when they- get 
themselves fortified." Stirling immediately sent urgent 
appeals for troops in every direction. He ordered over 
the Third New Jersey Continental Regiment under Colo- 
nel Dayton, and wrote for three hundred picked men from 
each of the six nearest counties of that State. Ward's 
and Waterbury's regiments, which were impatient to 
return home to attend to their spring farming, were many 
of them induced to remain two weeks beyond their term 
of enlistment until Governor Trumbull could supply their 
places with troops under Colonels Silliman and Talcott. 
Congress also ordered forward five or six Pennsylvania 
regiments. Meanwhile the New York Committee of 
Safety co-operated zealously with the military authorities.' 
At Stirling's request they voted to call out all the male 

1 The committee humored Governor Tryon, however, with a few civilities 
as late as April 4th, when they provided his fleet with " the following articles, 
viz.: 1300 lbs. beef for the 'Asia'; 1000 lbs. beef for the ' Phoenix,' with 
i8j. worth vegetables ; 2 qrs. beef, I doz. dishes. 2 dor., plates, 1 do/, 
spoons, 2 mugs, 2 barrels ale, for the packet ; 6 barrels of beer, 2 quarters of 
Beef for the governor's ship, ' Duchess of Gordon.'"— Journal of the Pro- 
'vincial Congress. 



inhabitants of the city, black and white, capable of dcing 
" fatigue duty," to work on the fortifications — the blacks 
to work every day, the whites every other day ; ' and the 
same orders were conveyed to the committee of King's 
County, where the inhabitants were directed to report 
to Colonel Ward, with spades, hoes and pickaxes. To 
troops needing quarters the committee turned over the 
empty houses in the city, or those that were " least liable 
to be injured ;" coarse sheets were ordered for the straw 
beds in the barracks ; the upper story of the " Bridewell " 
was converted into a laboratory or armory for repairing 
guns and making cartridges ; and all necessary details pro- 
vided for as far as possible. In case of an alarm, the troops 
were to parade immediately at the Battery, in the Common, 
and in front of Trinity Church. To annoy expected Brit- 
ish men-of-war, the committee despatched Major William 
Malcolm, of the Second city battalion, to dismantle the 
Sandy Hook Light, which the major effected in a thorough 
manner, breaking what glasses he could not move, and 
carrying off the oil. On Long Island, a guard of King's 
County troopers was posted at the Narrows, and another 
at Rockaway, to report the approach of ships ; and in the 
city, cannon were mounted in the batteries as fast as they 
were completed. On the 20th, Stirling could report that 
everybody turned to " with great spirit and industry," and 
that the work went on " amazingly well." 

1 Stirling's orders, March 13th, 1776 : " It is intended to employ one halt 
of the inhabitants every other day, changing, at the works for the defence 
of this city ; and the whole of the slaves every day, until this place is put 
in a proper posture of defence. The Town Major is immediately to dis- 
perse these orders." — Force, 4th series, vol. v., p. 219. 

The citizens were divided off into reliefs or " beats." In the " N. Y. 
Hist. Manuscripts," vol. i., p. 267, may be found the "Amount of officers 
and Privates of y* 22d Beat at work 17 March" — 59 men under Captain 
Ucnj. Egbert. Negroes belonging to the 22d Beat — " Pomp, Cxsar, Peter, 
Sam, Jo, Cubitt, Simms, John, Cato," etc., II in all. 


On the same date Brigadier-General Thompson, of 
Pennsylvania, reported at New York, and held the com- 
mand until the arrival, a few clays later, of Brigadier- 
General Heath, of Massachusetts, who in turn was 
relieved, April 4th, by Major-General Putnam. 

Affairs at Boston now reached a crisis. The siege, 
which the provincial troops had so successfully maintained 
for ten months, terminated to their own unbounded credit 
and the secret mortification of the enemy. On the 17th of 
March the city was evacuated by the British, and immedi- 
ately occupied by the Americans — an event that had been 
foreseen and provided for at a council of war held on the 
13th, at General Ward's headquarters in Roxbury. The 
commander-in-chief there stated that every indication 
pointed to an early departure of the enemy from Boston, 
with the probability that they were destined for New 
York, and he questioned whether it was not advisable to 
send a part of the army to that point without delay. The 
council coincided in this opinion, and on the following da)' 
the rifle regiment under Lieutenant-Colonel Hand, and the 
three companies of Virginia riflemen, under Captain Ste- 
phenson, were put on the march southward. These were 
followed on the 18th by five regiments under Brigadier- 
General Heath, who had been ordered to march by way 
of Providence, Norwich, New London, and the Sound. 
As the enemy's transports lingered around Boston for 
several days, no more troops were sent southward until 
the 29th, when six regiments were ordered on, under 
Brigadier-General Sullivan. On the same date Major- 
Gencral Putnam received orders to proceed to New 
York, assume command, and continue the work of forti- 
fying the city upon the plan adopted by General Lee. 


On the i st of April, Brigadier-General Greene's brigade 
moved in the same direction, and was followed in a day or 
two by General Spencer's. Five regiments remained at 
Boston, under Major-Gencral Ward. 

Waiting until all the troops were on the march, Wash- 
ington, on April 4th, himself set out from Cambridge for 
New York. Crowned with his first honors as the deliv- 
erer of Boston, he was greeted on his route with respectful 
admiration and enthusiasm. He had come to New Eng- 
land comparatively unknown — " a Mr. Washington, of Vir- 
ginia;" he left it secure in the affections and pride of its 
people. Expecting him at Providence the next day, the 
5th, General Greene, who had been delayed at that place, 
ordered two regiments of his brigade — Hitchcock's Rhode 
Island and Little's Massachusetts — to appear in their best 
form and escort the general into the city. The minute- 
ness of Greene's directions on the occasion furnishes us 
with the material for a picture of the personal appear- 
ance of the early Continental soldier when on parade. 
As preserved among the papers of the Massachusetts 
colonel, the order runs as follows: 

" Froindcnce April 4, 1776. — CoK Hitchcock's and Col". Little's 
regiments are to turn out to-morrow morning to escort his Excellency 
into town, to parade at 8 o'clock, both officers & men dressed in 
uniform, & none to turn out except those dressed in uniform, & those 
of the non-commissioned officers & soldiers that turn out to be 
washed, both face & hands, clean, their beards shaved, their hair 
combed & powdered, & their arms cleaned. The General hopes 
that both officers & soldiers will exert themselves for the honour ot 
the regiment & brigade to which they belong. He wishes to pay 
the honours to the Commander in Chief in as decent & respectable 
a manner as possible." ' 

Governor Cooke, of Rhode Island, was not less attentive, 

1 MS. Order Hook of Colonel Moses Little. 


and in addition to calling out " the several companies of 
cadets, of grenadiers, and light infantry" in Providence 
to meet the commander-in-chief, he had a house prepared 
for his reception and the accommodation of his suite, 
which, besides his officers, included Lady Washington and 
Mr. and Mrs. Custis. 1 Passing on to New London, where 
he hurried the embarkation of the troops, Washington kept 
on along the shore road, reached New Haven on the nth, 
and on the 13th arrived at the city of New York. Putnam 
had come ten days earlier. Owing to insufficient transpor- 
tation and slow sailing on the Sound, it was April 24th 
before the last of the soldiers reported on the ground. 

The new military base in this vicinity was thus fairly 
established, and the commander-in-chief, after personally 
inspecting the position, urged on the work of defence. 
As the regiments on their arrival had been quartered at 
haphazard in the city, he first arranged the army into five 
brigades, with the view of putting them into suitable and 
permanent camps. To the command of these he assigned 
Heath, Spencer, Sullivan, Greene, and Stirling, in the 
order of their rank. The twenty-five battalions which 
made up the force at this date numbered together not 
quite ten thousand men. 

But hardly were the orders for this new arrangement 
issued before events required its modification. Our affairs 
proving to be in a bad way in the direction of Canada, it 
became necessary to despatch General Sullivan with six 
regiments to the northward, and on the 29th of April the 
troops in New York were formed anew into four brigades, 
and assigned to their respective camps. Heath's first 
brigade was posted on the Hudson, just without the city 

<R. I. Hist. Coll. Vol. VI. 

64 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

above the Canal Street marsh and about Richmond Hill ; 
Spencer's second, on the East River, around the Rutgers' 
farm and Jones' Hill ; and Stirling's fourth, in the centre, 
near Bayard's Hill and the Bowery Road ; while Greene's 
third brigade was assigned to " the ground marked out 
upon Long Island." But one work now lay before these 
soldiers, namely, to put New York and its vicinity in a 
complete state of defence in the shortest possible time. 
j Howe and his Boston army, it was now known, had gone 
to Halifax instead of sailing for New York ; but he could 
still reach, and, with reinforcements from England, attack 
the city before the Americans were ready to receive him. 
The situation, accordingly, admitted of no delays, and 
digging was made the order of the day. No one could 
have anticipated, however, that preparations were to be 
continued full four months longer before active campaign- 
ing opened. 

/This interval of fortifying is not without its interest; 
and we may cross, first, with Greene to Long Island, to 
note what further was done towards securing that " capi- 
tal " point in the general system of defence. 

From the orders of April 24th and 25th it would appear 
that it was Washington's original intention to give the 
Brooklyn command, not to Greene, but to Sullivan. The 
latter was assigned to the Third Brigade before going to 
Canada, and on the 25th the encampment of this brigade 
was ordered to be marked out " upon Long Island." The 
fact that Sullivan was senior to Greene in rank, and was 
entitled, as between the two, to the honor and responsi- 
bility of the separate command, was doubtless the ground 
of his assignment in this case. But a greater responsibility 
was reserved for Sullivan in Canada, and Greene was sent 


to Long Island. Owing to bad weather, it was the 3d or 
4th of May before the latter crossed with troops. He 
took with him his old brigade, consisting of Colonel Ed- 
ward Hand's Pennsylvania Riflemen, his two favorite 
Rhode Island regiments under Colonels James Mitchell 
Varnum and Daniel Hitchcock, and Colonel Moses Little's 
regiment from Massachusetts. These ranked as the First, 
Ninth, Eleventh, and Twelfth of the Continental Estab- 
lishment, and were as well armed and under as good dis- 
cipline as any troops in Washington's army. Hand's 
regiment, numbering four hundred and seventy officers 
and men, was already on Long Island, having come from 
Boston in advance of the brigades, and was engaged in 
scouting and patrol duty at the Narrows and along the 
coast. Varnum's, Hitchcock's, and Little's, having an 
average strength of three hundred and eighty each, were 
the only troops around Brooklyn. 1 The Long Island 
militia were not as yet in the field, and the small company 
of Brooklyn troopers under Captain Waldron and Lieu- 
tenant Boerum, which had patrolled the coast during the 
early spring, do not appear on duty again until late in the 

It now remained for these regiments to go on fortifying 
the water-front of this site to keep the ships out of the 

1 Ward's, \vc have seen, was the first regiment stationed on Long Island. 
It was there from February 24th until about the end of March. The TV. V. 
Packet of February 29th, 1776, says : " Saturday last Col. Ward's regiment 
arrived here, from Connecticut, and embarked in boats and landed on 
Nassau [Long] Island." Lee gave orders that a Pennsylvania battalion, 
supposed to be on its way to New York, should encamp from the Walla- 
bout to Gowanus, but no Pennsylvania troops arc included in Stirling's 
return, and certainly none were on Long Island until Hand's riflemen came 
from Boston. It is probable that Colonel Chas. Webb's Connecticut Con- 
tinentals relieved Ward, as Captain Hale writes that it had been there three 
weeks, sometime before May 20th. Greene's brigade were the next troops 
to cross over. 

66 CAMPAIGN OF 1 7/6. 

river, and, in addition, to secure themselves against an 
attack by land. What Lee's plan was in reference to 
Columbia Heights has already been seen. Here he pro- 
posed to establish a camp with Fort Stirling and the 
Citadel among its defences, the former of which had been 
nearly completed and the latter begun by Ward's regi- 
ment and the inhabitants. In consequence, however, of a 
move made by General Putnam soon after his arrival, it 
had evidently become necessary to enlarge this plan. 
Governor's Island, just off the edge of which were moored 
the British men-of-war, had not been occupied by either 
Lee or Stirling ; but it lay within cannon-shot of the Bat- 
tery and Columbia Heights, and an enemy once lodged 
there could work us mischief. General Putnam noticed 
its position, and he had not been here three days before 
he wrote, April 7th, to the President of Congress : " After 
getting the works [in New York] in such forwardness as 
will be prudent to leave, I propose immediately to take 
possession of Governor's Island, which I think a very im- 
portant post. Should the enemy arrive here, and get post 
there, it will not be possible to save the city, nor could 
we dislodge them without great loss." ' On the very 
next night he carried out his proposal, as appears from 
the following account of the manoeuvre preserved among 
the papers of Colonel G. Selleck Silliman, of Fairfield, 
Connecticut, who had recently come down to relieve the 
troops under Ward and Waterbury : 

" Tuesday Morning, gt/t April. — Last Evening Draughts 
were made from a Number of Regiments here, mine 
among the Rest, to the Amount of 1,000 Men. With 
these and a proper Number of Officers Gen 1 Putnam at 

1 Force, Fourth Series, vol. v., p. 811. 


Candle lighting embarked on Board of a Number of Ves- 
sels with a large Number of intrenching Tools and went 
directly on the Island a little below the City called Nut- 
ten [Governor's] Island where they have been intrenching 
all Night and are now at work, and have got a good 
Breast Work there raised which will cover them from the 
fire of the Ships ; and it is directly in the Way of the 
Ship coming up to the Town. The Asia has fallen down 
out of Gun Shot from this Place and it deprives the Ships 
of the only Watering Place they have here without going 
down toward the Hook.'" There was something of the 
Bunker Hill flavor about this move, and it was Prcscott's 
Bunker Hill regiment that was first stationed' on the 
Island, which subsequently became one of the strongest 
posts of the position. At the same time another party 
occupied Red Hook,' on Long Island, which commanded 
the channel between the Hook and Governor's Island. 

The occupation by Putnam of these two points, which 
was clearly necessary for a more effective defence of the 
East River, required, or at least resulted in, the modifica- 
tion of Lee's plan, and the adoption of a new line on Long 
Island. It was now decided to hold the Brooklyn penin- 
sula with a chain of works thrown up across the neck 
from Wallabout Bay to the Gowanus Marsh ; and it was 
in this vicinity that the encampment for Greene's brigade 

1 MS. letter from Colonel Silliman to his wife, in possession of Mrs. 
O. P. Hubbard, New York City. 

8 General Orders, April i6th, 1776 : . . . "Colonel Prcscott's Regi- 
ment is to encamp on Governour's Island as soon as the weather clears. 
They are to give every assistance in their power to the works erecting 
thereon." . . . 

8 "Monday night 1060 Continental troops stationed here went over and 
took possession of Governor's Island and began to fortify it ; the same 
night a regiment went over to Red Hook and fortified that place likewise." 
New York Packet, April II, 177C. 


was marked out by Mifflin, the quartermaster-general, and 
afterwards approved by Washington.' By the fortunate 
recovery of the daily orders issued by General Greene on 
Lon" - Island, and also of original sketches of the site, it 
has become possible to fix the location of this line and the 
names of the works with almost entire accuracy. 

To defend the approach between the bay and marsh, 
the engineers laid out three principal forts and two 
redoubts, with breastworks connecting them. The site 
occupied was a favorable one. On the left rose the high 
ground, now known as Fort Greene Place or Washing- 
ton Park, one hundred feet above the sea-level ; and on the 
right, between the main road and the marsh, were lower 
elevations on lands then owned by Rutgert Van Brunt 
and Johannes Debevoise. The flanks were thus well 
adapted for defence, and they were near enough each 
other to command the ground between them. Two of 
the works were erected on the right of the road, and 
received the names of Fort Greene and Fort Box ; three 
were on the left, and were known as the Oblong Redoubt, 
Fort Putnam, and the redoubt " on its left." In view 
of the fact that local historians heretofore have put 
but three fortifications on this line, where, it is now well 
established, there were five, a more particular description 
of them becomes necessary. Extending from right to left, 
they were laid out as follows:' 

' General Orders, April 25th, 1776 : " The encampment of the Third 
Brigade to be marked out in like manner, upon Long Island, on Saturday 
morning. The chief engineers, with ihe quartermasters, etc., from each 
regiment, to assist the quartermaster-general in that service. As soon as 
the general has approved of the encampments marked out, the troops will 
be ordered to encamp. . . ." 

5 Consult map accompanying this work, entitled "Plan of the Battle of 
Long Island, and of the Brooklyn Defences in 1776;" also the note in 
regard to it under the title " Maps," in Part II. 


Fort Box.— It has been supposed that the fort by this 
name occupied an independent site southwest of the main 
line, with the object of defending Gowanus Creek where 
it was crossed by a mill-dam. That it stood, however, 
on the right of the line is beyond question. Thus the 
letter of a spectator of the battle' says: " Our lines fronted 
the east. On the left, near the lowest part of the above- 
described bay [Wallabout], was Fort Putnam, near the 
middle Fort Greene, and towards the creek Fort Box." 
In his order of June 1st, General Greene directs five com- 
panies to take post " upon the right in Fort Box ;" and on 
August 16th a fatigue party is detailed " to form the 
necessary lines from Fort Box to Fort Putnam," clearly 
indicating that the two were on the same continuous line. 
To confirm the correctness of this locality, we have the 
fort and its name distinctly indicated on the outline 
map sketched by President Stiles, of Yale College, in 
his Diary of Revolutionary Events. By reference to the 
fac-simile of the sketch here presented, it will be Seen 
that although there are errors in the drawing, the relative 
position of the principal works is preserved, and the site 
of Fort Box finally determined. It stands nearest Gow- 
anus Creek, and on the right of the other forts. The 
work appears to have been of a' diamond shape, and was 
situated on or near the line of Pacific Street, a short dis- 
tance above Bond." 

1 " Memoirs of the Long Island Historical Society," vol. ii., p. 494. 
" Battle of Long Island." By Thomas W. Field. 

*As the British demolished all the Brooklyn works very soon after their 
capture, it would be difficult to fix the exact site of some of them, but for data 
which have been preserved. That they were destroyed is certain. Baur- 
meistcr, the Hessian major, states that Howe directed the Hessian division 
to level the " Brocklands-Lcinen," but recalled the order when General Dc 
Heister represented that " this could not be done by soldiers without com- 
pensation, especially as it would be the work of four weeks." According 

70 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

As to its name, \vc must assume that it was called Fort 
Box in honor of Major Daniel Box, Greene's brigade- 
major (an office corresponding to the present assistant 
adjutant-general), whose services were then highly ap- 
preciated. Box first appears as an old British soldier, 
who had been wounded in the French war, and after- 
wards as an organizer and drill-master of Independent 
companies in Rhode Island, which subsequently furnished 
many fine officers to the Continental army.' In a letter 
to Colonel Pickering in 1779, Greene speaks of him in 
flattering terms, as having been invaluable in the earlier 
years of the war. That he was something of an engineer, 

to tradition, the inhabitants levelled them by Howe's orders. General Rob- 
ertson testified in 1779 that " there were no vestiges of the lines soon after 
they were taken." Comwailis on the same occasion said that, being de- 
tached to Newtown after the battle, he had " no opportunity of going to 
Brooklyn till the lines were nearly demolished." But with the assistance of 
Lieutenant Ratzer's accurate topographical map of New York and Brooklyn 
of 1766-7, the Hessian map published in vol. ii. of the Society's Memoirs, 
the plan of the lines thrown up in the 1812 war, and other documents, the 
forts of 1776 can readily be located. Ratzer's map shows all the eleva- 
tions where works would naturally be put ; and tho Hessian map, which 
is a reduction of Ratzer's, adds the works. The accuracy of the latter, 
which heretofore could not be proved, is now established by the fact that 
the position of the forts corresponds to the location assigned them rela 
tively in Greene's orders. There can be little doubt that this map was 
made from actual surveys soon after the battle, and that the shape as well 
as the site of the works and lines is preserved in it. Another guide is the 
1812 line as marked out by Lieutenant Gadsden, of the Engineer Corps. A 
copy of the original plan of this line, furnished by the War Department) 
shows a close correspondence with the Hessian draft. The same points 
are fortified in each case. Fort " Fireman" of 1812 occupies the site, or 
very nearly the site, of Fort Box ; Fort " Masonic," that of Fort Greene ; 
Redoubt " Cummings," that of the Oblong Redoubt ; and " Fort Greene," 
that of Fort Putnam. The site of the "redoubt on the left" was inclosed, 
in 1812, in the outer intrenchment which was carried around the brow of 
the hill. Although the British obliterated all marks of the Brooklyn 
defences of 1776, we thus find nature and the records enabling us to 
re-establish them to-day. 

1 MS. letter of General Greene to Colonel Pickering, August 24, 1779, in 
possession of Prof. Geo. Washington Greene, East Greenwich, L. I. 

J B,en Photo Lith NY. 


as well as an excellent brigade-major, is evident from the 
fact that he assisted in marking out the lines around Bos- 
ton in 1775, and later superintended the construction of 
Fort Lee, on the Jersey side. No doubt he had much to 
say about the building of the Brooklyn lines, and of the 
work in particular which bore his name. 

Fort Greene. — About three hundred yards to the left 
of Fort Box, a short distance above Bond Street, between 
State and Schermerhorn, stood Fort Greene, star-shaped, 
mounting six guns, and provided with a well and maga- 
zines. Colonel Little, its commander, describes it as the 
largest of the works on Long Island ; and this statement is 
corroborated by the fact that its garrison consisted of an 
entire regiment, which was not the case with the other 
forts, and that it was provided with nearly double the 
number of pikes. It occupied an important position on 
one of the small hills near the centre of that part of the 
line lying southwest of Washington Park, and its guns 
commanded the approach by the Jamaica highway. Being 
the principal work on the line, the engineers, or possibly 
Little's regiment, named it after their brigade commander. 

Oblong Redoubt. — Still further to the left, and on the 
other side of the road, a small circular redoubt, called the 
" Oblong Redoubt," was thrown up on what was then a 
piece of rising ground at the corner of De Kalb and Hud- 
son avenues. The reason of its name is not apparent. 
Greene's orders refer to it as the " Oblong Square" and 
the " Oblong Redoubt." Major Richard Thornc, of Colo- 
nel Remsen's Long Island militia, speaks of being on 
guard at " Fort Oblong" all night a short time before the 
battle. 1 This redoubt had very nearly direct command 

1 "Force," Fifth Scries, vol. ii., p. 202. 

/ 2 CAMPAIGN OK 1//6. 

of the road, and in connection with Fort Greene was 
depended upon to defend the centre of the line. 

Fort Putnam. — From the Oblong Redoubt, the line 
ascended northeasterly to the top of the hill included in 
Washington Park, where the fourth in the chain of works 
was erected. This was Fort Putnam. Star-shaped like 
Fort Greene, it was somewhat smaller than the latter, and 
mounted four or five garrison guns. Its strong natural 
position, however, made it the salient point of the line, 
and it became, as will be seen, the main object of attack 
by the British during and after, the battle. 1 The fort may 
have taken its name, as usually supposed, from Major- 
General Israel Putnam ; but it is altogether more probable 
that it was named after Colonel Rufus Putnam, the chief 
engineer, who marked out many of the works on Long 
Island as well as in New York, and who must have fre- 
quently crossed to give directions in their construction. 

Redoubt on the Left. — At the eastern termination of 
the hill, a short distance from Fort Putnam, and on a 
lower grade, stood the last of the works, which is identi- 
fied in the orders and letters of the day as the " redoubt on 
the left." It was a small affair, and occupied a point at 
about the middle of the present Cumberland Street, nearly 
midway between Willoughby and Myrtle avenues'; but 
in 1776 the site was twenty feet higher, and appeared as 
a well-defined spur extending out from Fort Putnam. As 

' Mr. Field states that the site of Fort Putnam was unfortunately over- 
looked by the high ground cast of it, Greene and his engineers probably 
not noticing the fact until after the woods were cut down. The official sur- 
veys of the ground, made before it was levelled, show no such command- 
ing elevation, the Fort Putnam Hill being as high as any within rouge ; 
nor can we credit Greene or his officers with fortifying a point which was 
untenable, or with not observing that it was untenable. As the engineers 
of iKj2 occupied the same site, it could be safely concluded, were no sur- 
veys [.reserved, (hat it was entirely defensible. 


it was commanded by the latter, its capture by the enemy 
would bring them no advantage, while as an American 
defence it could materially assist in protecting the left. 

Between these five works a line of connecting intrench- 
ments was laid out, while on the right it was to be con- 
tinued from Fort Box to the marsh, and on the left from the 
Fort Putnam Hill, " in a straight line," to the swamp at the 
edge of Wallabout Bay. Anticipating their construction, 
we may say that each work became a complete fortifica- 
tion in itself, being surrounded with a wide ditch, pro- 
vided with a sally-port, its sides lined with sharpened 
stakes, the garrison armed with spears to repel storming 
parties, and the work supplied with water and provisions 
to withstand a siege if necessary. The greater part of the 
line was picketed with abattis, and the woods cut down to 
give full sweep to the fire of the guns. As every thing 
depended upon holding this front, the necessity of making 
it as strong as possible was fully realized, and at the time 
of the engagement in August it was considered a suffi- 
cient barrier to the enemy's advance. 1 

1 Some important and interesting information relative to the main line at 
Brooklyn was brought out in 1779 at the examination of Captain John 
Montressor, before the Parliamentary Committee which investigated 
Howe's conduct of the war. Montressor was a British army engineer, 
acting as Howe's aid on Long Island. Being one of the general's wit- 
nesses, he naturally made out the American position as strong as possible, 
but the main facts of his testimony are to be accepted. The examination 
was in part as follows : 

" Q. Can you give a particular account of the state of thoso [Brooklyn] 

A. Yes — the lines were constructed from Wallabout Hay, on one side 
to a swamp that intersects the land between the main land and Read Hook, 
which terminates the lines. The lines were about a mile and a half in 
extent, including the angles, cannon proof, with a chain of five redoubts, 
or rather fortresses, with ditches, as had also the lines that formed the 
intervals, raised on the parapet and the counterscarp, and the whole sur- 
rounded with the most formidable abbaties. 

"4 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

Four Coddle Hill. — Passing to the remaining works 
on Long Island, wc find a redoubt on the crest of a cone- 
shaped hill, which stood alone near the intersection of the 
present Court and Atlantic streets, and which was known 
by the Dutch inhabitants as Punkiesberg. As it does not 
appear to have been called Cobble Hill before this date, 
the reasonable inference may be drawn that it was so 
named by Greene's troops because of its close resem- 
blance to the Cobble Hill which formed one of the forti- 
fied points in the siege of Boston, but a short distance 
from Winter Hill, where Greene's brigade was posted. In 
the orders of the day, the redoubt is known as " Smith s 

Q. Were those lines finished on every part, from the swamp formed by 
the Wallabout on the left, to the swamp on the right ? 

A. Yes. 

Q. Do you know the particulars of the left part of the line towards the 
Wallabout ? Have you any reason for knowing that ? 

A. The line runs straight from the rising ground where Fort Putnam was 
constructed, in a straight line to the swamp that terminates itself at the 
bottom of Wallabout Bay. 

Q. Was there a possibility of a single man's passing round the left part 
of the line? 

A. There was not. After entering the lines, Sir William Howe, on the 
enemy's evacuating, followed the road to the point, to examine and see if 
he could get out at that part, which he could not do, and wc were obliged to ' 
return and go out of a sally port of the lines. . . . 

Q. Can you say of your own knowledge, that the right redoubt of the 
lines at Brooklyn had an abattis before it ? 

A. I have already said that the whole had an abattis before it. 

[He produces an actual survey of the lines.] 

Q. If any one of these redoubts were taken, did not they flank the line in 
such a manner to the right and left that the enemy could not remain in the 
lines ? 

A. I have already said, that they could not be taken by assault, but by 
approaches, as they were rather fortresses than redoubts." — A View of the 
Evidence Relative to the Conduct of the American War under Sir William 
Howe, etc.; second edition ; London, 1779. Manual of the Corporation of 
the City of New York, 1870, p. 884. 

The maps in the early London editions of Gordon's and Stcdman's 
histories of the war, each put five fortifications on the line from the Walla- 
bout to Gowanus Creek. 


barbette," Captain William Smith, the engineer whom 
Lee brought with him, having it in charge. The work 
mounted four guns, and, from its central interior posi- 
tion, could have prevented the enemy from securing a 
foothold on the peninsula in the rear or flank of the main 
line in case they effected a landing back of Red I look or 
crossed Gowanus Creek above. This hill was long since 
cut away. 1 

Redoubt at the Mill.— Near the corner of the 
present Dcgraw and Bond streets, a small battery or 
breastwork, in the form of a right angle, mounting one 
gun, was thrown up to cover the narrow passage over a 
mill-dam which here crossed Gowanus Creek. It stood at 

. the extremity of a long low sand-hill, and the dam con- 
nected this point with a tongue of land on the opposite 
side, on which two mills were built, known as the upper 
or yellow, and lower mills. The upper mill was immedi- 
ately opposite the redoubt, and it was here that the Port 
Road came down to the edge of the creek. 

Red Hook — Fort Defiance. — This work, already re- 
ferred to, was originally a single water battery, mounting 

four eighteen-pounders, en barbette, to prevent the passage 
of ships east of Governor's Island, as well as to keep the 
enemy from landing at the southern extremity of the pen- 
insula. Washington speaks of it in May as being " a small, 
but exceedingly strong" fort. Lieutenant Samuel Shaw, of 
Knox's artillery, who was stationed there most of the 

1 One of Greene's orders refers to this fort as follows : " Camp on 
Long Island, July 19, 1776. — The works on Cobble Hill being greatly re- 
tarded for want of men to lay turf, few being acquainted with that service, 
all those in Colonel Hitchcock's and Colonel Little's regiments, that 
understand that business, arc desired to voluntarily turn out every day, 
and they shall be excused from all other duty, and allowed one half a pint 
of rum a day." Two guns fired from Cobble Hill were to be the signal 
that the enemy had landed on Long Island. 


summer, states that it was named " Fort Defiance," and 
subsequently strengthened by additional "works, which, 
from the Hessian map and the Stiles draft, appear to have 
consisted of a second and larger redoubt connected with 
the first by an intrenchment or inclosed way. 1 On the 
5th of July, Greene wrote to Washington that he regarded 
Red Hook as " a post of vast importance," and proposed 
stationing a considerable force there permanently, as in 
that case the commanding officer would be " more indus- 
trious to have every thing in readiness, and obstinate in 
defence" when the attack came ; and on the 8th we find 
the order for " Col. Varnum's regiment to remove their 
encampment to Red Hook, and do the duty of that post." 
Fort Stirling. — The first work laid out on Long Island, 
as we have seen, was Fort Stirling, which, in connection 
with batteries on the New York side, was designed to 
command the East River channel. Its exact site has been 
a point of dispute. Several writers and old inhabitants 
associate the name with the remains of a large fortifica- 
tion which stood at the corner of Henry and Picrrcpont 
streets as late as 1836. It is clear, however, that this was 
a work erected by the British during the latter part of the 
Revolution. General Robertson, acting as Governor of 
New York in 1780, wrote to Lord Gcrmaine, May 18th, 
that, among other works thrown up to make New York 
more secure against an attack by the Americans, " a large 
square fort is built at Brooklyn Heights." a The traveller 
Smyth, writing in the same year, says, " The town [New 

' " Our fort [Defiance] is much strengthened by new works and more 
troops, and it is in so good a posture of defence, that it would be almost 
impossible to take it either by attack or surprise. To guard against the 
latter, each man is every other night on duty." — Memoir of Samuel Shaw, 
p. 17. 

* Documents, Col. Hist, of New York, vol. viii., p. 792. 


York] is entirely commanded by a considerable eminence 
in Long Island, directly opposite to it, named Brookland 
Heights, on which a strong regular fort with four bastions 
has lately been erected by the British troops." This ex- 
actly describes the work in question.' The corner of 
Henry and Pierrepont Streets, moreover, being a thousand 
feet back from the river's edge, could not have been se- 
lected at that time as the site for a strictly water battery 
intended for effective resistance. The fort must be looked 
for nearer the edge of the bluff, and there wc find it. Both 
the Stiles and the Hessian maps place it directly on the 
bank of the river — the latter, a little north of what was 
then known as the Bampcr House, or at about the inter- 
section of Clark and Columbia streets.' 

The fort was a strong inclosed work, mounting eight 
guns. Ward's men broke ground for it about the 1st of 
March, and continued digging, as their major, Douglas, 
writes, through " cold, tedious weather," until other troops 
took their place.' 

Greene's soldiers, whose experience around Boston had 

1 The recollections and incidents preserved by Stiles and Furman go to 
show that this was not an American-built fort. — Stiles' Brooklyn, vol. i., pp. 

314. 315. 

* A return of the batteries around New York, March 24th, describes Fort 
Stirling as opposite the "Fly Market" in Maiden Lane [Force, Fourth 
Series, vol. v., p. 480J. Clark, Pineapple, and Orange streets, Brooklyn, 
can all be called " opposite" Maiden Lane in New York. The Hessian 
map puts the fort nearest the line of Clark. 

8 The work, which was to be known as the Citadel, was in all probability 
the " redoubtc commence," or unfinished fort, indicated on the Hessian 
map in the rear and to the south of Fort Stirling. The site corresponds 
with that of the British fort of 17S0, corner of Henry and Pierrepont streets, 
which was then, as it still is, the highest point on Brooklyn Heights, and 
hence the natural position for a citadel or commanding fortification. Stir- 
ling, in his letter to the President of Congress of March 14, says : " The 
work [Fort Stirling] first begun on Long Island opposite to this city is 
almost completed, and the cannon carried over. The grand citadel there 

;S CAMPAIGN OF 1 7/6. 

made them veterans, at least in the use of the spade, now 
went to work to throw up these lines. He reminded them 
early (if the importance of the post, and the necessity of 
preparation and vigilance. " As the security of New 
York greatly dependeth on this pass," runs his order of 
May 5th, " while these works are constructing, the gene- 
ral hopes the troops will carefully forward the same as 
fast as possible ;" and this he followed up with the caution 
that if any soldier left his work without liberty, he should 
do fatigue duty for a whole week. Orders from head- 
quarters in New York at the same time directed General 
Greene to report " all extraordinaries" to the commander- 
in-chief; the officers at Red Hook and Governor's Island 
to do the same ; and the officer commanding the riflemen 
on Long Island to " constantly report all extraordinaries to 
General Greene." Although no enemy had yet appeared, 
every regiment in the army was ordered to mount a picket 
every evening, to lie on their arms, and be ready to turn 
out at a moment's notice. 

It is possible to follow the troops on Long Island in their 
routine of camp life all through the tedious summer 

will be marked out to-morrow, and will be begun by the inhabitants of 
King's County and Colonel Ward's Regiment." 

The list of batteries, March 24th, contains a note to the effect that a cita- 
del covering five acres, called the Congress, was to be built in the rear of 
Fort Stirling. Major Fish writes, April Qth : "There are two fortifica- 
tions on Long Island opposite this city, to command the shipping." One of 
these was Fort Stirling — the other, undoubtedly, the citadel then in process 
of construction. The latter, though not in as favorable a position for the 
purpose as the former, could still fire on ships entering the river. 

The position of these two works, taken in connection with Lee's plan of 
forming an intrenched camp on Long Island, fortified with a chain of re- 
doubts, which, according to one of his letters, were to be three in number, 
indicates quite clearly that this general intended to hold simply the heights 
along the river. The facts fail to bear out the supposition that the lines, as 
finally adopted on Long Island, were of Lee's planning. Work on the 
citadel was probably discontinued, because his plan was so much enlarged 
as to make that fortification unavailable. 


they were to spend on this ground. Digging was the main 
thing at first, and they had so much of this t'.lat the officers 
complained of their inability to keep the men in clothes, 
they wore them out so fast, and they made themselves so 
begrimed with dirt at the trenches, that the allowance of 
soap would not clean them ; all which moved Greene to 
write to Washington that it would be no more than " a 
piece of justice to the troops" to allow them a double 
quantity of soap. Their encampment, in the rear of the 
lines, appears to have been a pleasant one. The soldiers 
lived in bell-shaped tents with board floors, and varied 
their regulation fare with the produce of the Dutch farms ; 
with the permission of their field-officers they could occa- 
sionally cross on a visit to the city. Their general, how- 
ever, held them closely to duty, and we find in these early 
orders the beginnings of that strictness which subsequently 
made him known, with his other soldierly qualities, as a 
thorough disciplinarian. No enemy being near them, the 7 
men, when put on guard, perhaps relaxed even ordinary 
vigilance ; but they were soon brought up sharply by the l 
general, with the direction that every part of camp duty 
must be done with as much exactness as if the British were 
in their front, for bad habits once contracted, they are told, 
" are difficult to get over, and doing duty in a slovenly 
manner is both disgraceful and dangerous to officers ancL-J 
men." They were sure of being watched, too, by Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Cornell, of Hitchcock's regiment, whose 
habit of reprimanding the men for every neglect had won 
for him the title of " Old Snarl" throughout the camp ;' but 
his subsequent promotion to offices of responsibility showed 
that in other quarters his particular qualities were appre- 

1 Letter from General Greene written at Fort Lee. Mrs. Williams' Life of 


tinted. As the warm season came on, Greene cautioned 
his soldiers about their health. The "colorn'.en" were to 
keep the camps clean, and look after the hospitals. Many 
soldiers being down with fever in July, the general recom- 
mends " the strictest attention to the cookery, and that 
broiling and frying meat, so destructive to health, be pro- 
hibited ;" going into the water in the heat of the day is 
also forbidden. A neglect of these matters at this critical 
season, Greene continues, " may be attended with dread- 
ful consequences." 

Occasionally it was found necessary to give the soldiers 
a sharp reproof for insulting the inhabitants or trespass- 
ing on their property. When the complaint was brought 
to Greene that some of his men had been stealing water- 
melons, he promptly issued an order that such practices 
must be punished. " A few unprincipled rascals," he 
said, " may ruin the reputation of a whole corps of virtu- 
ous men ;" and on another occasion he called upon the 
soldiers to behave themselves " with that decency and 
respect that became the character of troops fighting for 
the preservation of the rights and liberties of America." 
Perhaps the offenders found an excuse for their conduct 
in the Tory character of the complainants; but Greene, 
though no friend himself to such people, could never 
accept this as a provocation to justify a breach of military 

The Tory element in the population required other and 
sterner treatment. 1 It had developed to such an extent 

'A history of the Tories on Long Island and in New York — the trouble 
they gave j n f] ic present campaign, and the measures taken for their sup- 
pression — properly forms a subject by itself. The scope of the present 
work admits of but brief allusions to them. However honest this class of 
the population may have been in taking sides with the British, and what- 
ever sympathy may be expressed for them in their trials, losses, and en- 


in Kings and Queens counties as to require its suppres- 
sion by the civil and military power combined. The re- 
fusal of the majority of the voters in Queers to send 
delegates to the New York Provincial Convention in 
1775 indicated not only a confidence on their part that 
the Home Government would succeed in crushing the 
rebellion, but a secret intention as well to give the 
British troops upon their arrival all the aid and comfort 
in their power. As they provided themselves with arms 
and the British fleet with provisions, the Continental 
Congress took up the matter, ordered the arrest of the 
leaders, and dispatched Colonel Heard, of New Jersey, 
with a regiment of militia to execute the business. 
Arrests were made, but the complete suppression of 
the loyalists here was never effected. 

While Lee was in command he saw no solution of the 
problem other than to remove the entire Tory population 
to some other quarter where they could do less mischief 
in the event of active operations ; but Congress, to the 
regret of Washington, could not sanction so radical a 
method. Greene did his best to root out this clement, but 
we may imagine that it was uncongenial work, and that 
he took far more interest in the progress of his redoubts 
than in chasing suspected persons on the island.' 

torccd dispersion during and at the end of the war, tlicrc was obviously no 
course left to the Americans, then in the midst of a deadly struggle, but to 
treat them as a dangerous and obstructive set. The New York Provincial 
Congress, in the fall of the year and later, dealt with them unsparingly ; and 
no man wished to sec the clement rooted out more than John Jaj — a fact to 
be borne in mind by those who condemn Lcc and other American officers 
for attempting to banish the Long Island Tories, as a military precaution, in 
the early part of the year. 

1 What General Greene thought of the Tories, and what treatment lie pro- 
posed in certain cases, appears from a report on the subject signed by Gen- 
erals Heath, Spencer, Greene, and Stirling, and submitted to Washington 
towards the close of June : "With regard to the disaffected inhabitants 


8^ CAMPAIGN OF 1 7/6. 

By the 1st of June the works around Brooklyn appear 
to have so far progressed as to admit of t lie mounting of 
some of the cannon, and on the evening of that date the 
troops were ordered to parade with arms and man the 
lines. On the 17th the general assigned them to perma- 
nent positions as follows: 

" Colonel Varn urn's regiment is to take Fort Box and the Oblong 
Redoubt for their alarm-posts — Fort Box, six companies; Oblong 
Redoubt, two companies. Captain Wolverton's Independent Com- 
pany' to join those in the redoubt, and to receive orders from Colonel 

Colonel Hitchcock's regiment to take Fort Putnam and the fort 
or redoubt on the left of it for their alarm-posts. 

Colonel Little's regiment to take Fort Greene for their alarm-posts." 

To impress his soldiers with his own sense of the great 
importance of the Long Island front, Greene added the 
determined words : " In case of an attack, all these posts 
arc to be defended to the last extremity." And Colonel 
Little, who had proved his fitness to command the post 

who have lately been apprehended," say these officers, "wc think that the 
method at present adopted by the County Committee, of discharging them on 
their giving bonds as a security for their good behavior, is very improper and 
ineffectual, and therefore recommend it to your Excellency to apply to the 
Congress of this province to take some more effectual method of securing 
the good behavior of those people, and in the mean time that your Excel- 
lency will order the officers in whose custody they arc to discharge no more 
of them until the sense of the Congress be had thereon." — Journals vf the 
jV. Y. Prov. Congress, vol. ii. 

On this subject Colonel Huntington wrote to Governor Trumbull, June 
6th, as follows: "Long Island has the greatest proportion of Tories, both 
of its own growth and of adventitious ones, of any part of this colony ; 
from whence some conjecture thiit the attack is to be made by that way. 
It is more likely to be so than not. Notwithstanding the vigilance of our 
outposts, we are sure there is frequent intercourse between the Asia and 
the shore, and that they have been supplied with fresh meat. New guards 
have lately been set in suspected places, which I hope will prevent any 
further communication." — Force, 4th Scries, vol. vi., p. 725. 

'This was a company of New Jersey Minute-men from Essex County, 
which had been sent over to Long Island on May 17th. 


assigned him by his cool and soldic.-ly conduct at Bunker 
Hill, quietly resolved that if the enemy assaulted Fort 
Greene it should never be surrendered while he was 
alive. 1 

Guards were now stationed at the forts and greater 
vigilance enjoined about the camp. Even as early as 
May 25th, when the works were still far from complete, 
the orders were strict that none but a general officer 
should be admitted to them without special leave. The 
lines wcVc to be manned every morning " between day 
and sunrise," and the troops exercised at parapet firing. 
The orders of July 1st directed the commanding officers 
of the regiments " to make a line round each of the forts 
and fortifications for the troops to begin a fire on the 
enemy if they attempt to storm, the works, and the 
troops are to be told not to fire sooner than the enemy's 
arrival at these lines, unless commanded. The line should 
be about eighty yards from the parapet." The officers of 
the guards were to be accountable for every thing in the 
forts, but particularly for the rum lodged there for the 
use of the men in time of action. Provisions also were 
to be supplied to each alarm-post " in case of siege," and 
the water-casks kept constantly full of fresh water. To 
assure the effectiveness of the means of defence, one hun- 
dred spears were to be placed in Fort Greene, thirty in 
the works to the right, twenty in the Oblong Redoubt, 
fifty in Fort Putnam, and twenty to the left of it. 

And so the work went on under Greene's eye, and by 
the middle of summer his troops' had inclosed them- 

' Colonel Little to his son. Doc. No. 9. 

* It is a somewhat singular fact, indicating perhaps the scantiness of our 
material heretofore, that none of the local accounts of operations on Long 
Island mention cither Hitchcock's, Varnum's, or Little's regiments in 
any connection, whereas these, with Hand's, formed the permanent garri- 
son on that side and threw up the greater part of the works. 

84 CAMPAIGN OF 1//6. 

selves on the Brooklyn peninsula, with,, lines which, 
though unfinished, were still of very respectable strength. 

Rccrossing the river to New York, we find the other 
brigades there at work as uninterruptedly as Greene's on 
Long Island. The many well-known "general orders" 
issued by the commander-in-chief during this season tes- 
tify to the great amount of fatigue duty performed by the 
troops. Washington regretted that the necessity for it 
left so little opportunity for drilling and he urged his 
officers to make the most of what time they had for this 
purpose. But his chief anxiety was to have the defences 
pushed on, and by the middle of June the pr ficipal works 
were completed or well under way. The location and 
names of these are indicated in the orders and maps of 
the da) - .' Beginning on the North River side and con- 
tinuing around the city, they were as follows: 

1 In locating the works in New York City, the writer follows the list of 
batteries reported March 24th, 1776 (Force, 41I1 Series, vol. v., p. 480) ; 
Putnam's order of May 22d, naming the several works; Knox's artillery 
returns of June 10th, giving the number of guns in each ; and Hills' map of 
the fortifications, drawn at the close of the war. The first list shows the 
works as they stood at about the time the lioston troops came down, and 
which Lee had planned. There arc alterations and additions in Putnam's 
and Knox's lists, which are to be followed where they differ from the list of 
March 24th. Although many other works were ejected, no names appear 
to have been attached to them, those only being designated which occupied 
the most important points and were provided with guns and garrisons. 

The Hills map is indispensable in this connection. John Hills, formerly 
a British engineer, surveyed the city and island of New York as far as 
Thirty-fourth Street in 17S2, and in 1785 made a careful map of the same, 
which John Lozier, Esq., presented to the Common Council in 1847. 
This is still preserved, and is consulted at times for official purposes. In 
addition to giving all the streets, blocks, docks, and squares, Hills added 
all the works thrown up in and around the city during the Revolution, giv- 
ing their exact location and shape. Part of the lines have a confused ap- 
pearance, but they become clear on referring to the following memorandum 
on the map : " All the works colored yellow were erected by the Forces 
of the United States in 1776. Those works colored Orange were erected 
by D" and repaired by the British Forces. Those works colored Green 



Grenadier Battery. — This was a " beautiful " cir- 
cular battery, situated on the bank of the North River 
where it ran out into a well-defined bluff, at the corner of 
the present Washington and Harrison streets. Captain 
Abraham Van Dyck's Grenadier Company of New York 
City Independents built it while Lee and Stirling were 
in command, and received the thanks of Washington in 
general orders for the skilful manner in which they had 
executed their work. The fort mounted two twelve-pound- 
ers and two mortars. The grenadier company was organ- 
ized by Stirling a few years before, when he lived in New 
York, and he watched the construction of the battery with 
considerable pride. The Pennsylvania Gazette of Jlay 8th, 
1776, contains a letter from Captain Van Dyck to Stirling, 
informing him of the completion of the work, and desir- 
ing " the approbation of their former captain." Stirling 
replied that he had frequently admired the battery, and 
reflected with " real satisfaction" on the hour when he 
formed the company. 

Jersey Battery. — A short distance below, on the line 
of Rcade Street, just west of Greenwich, stood the Jersey 
Battery — a five-sided work, mounting two twelve and 
three thirty-two pounders. A line of intrenchments con- 
nected these two batteries, and, extending beyond on 
either side, made the position a particularly strong one. 
Their guns had the range of the bank up and down the 
river, and could enfilade an enemy attempting to land in 
that vicinity. 

were erected by the Hritish Forces during the War." In the map of New 
York accompanying the present work, Hills' "yellow" line has been fol- 
lowed, showing all the American forts. Their location corresponds pre- 
cisely with that which I'utnam gives, so far as he names them ; and by 
projecting the present streets over Hills' plan, it is possible to ascertain 
where they stood in the plan of our modern city. 

§6 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. , 

McDougall's and tiie Oyster Battery. — The 
wrrks next below on the Hudson consisted of two batter- 
ies situated on the high ground in the rear and to the 
south of Trinity Church. The one on the bluff near the 
church, or on the line of the present Rector Street, a little 
cast of Greenwich, was known under Stirling as McDou- 
gall's Battery ; but this name does not appear in the re- 
turn of June 10th, and in its place in the order of the 
works we have the " Oyster" Battery. It is possible that 
this was the work a little south of McDougall's, at the in- 
tersection of the present Morris and Greenwich streets. 
Its location is described by Putnam in May as " behind 
General Washington's head-quarters." ' It mounted two 

1 Washington's Head-quarters in New York. — This reference cre- 
ates some uncertainty as to the particular house occupied by Washington 
in New York during the first part of the campaign. If the site of the Oys- 
ter Battery were known exactly the house could be identified. On the 
other hand, if head-quarters, as generally supposed, were at the Ken- 
nedy Mansion, No. 1 Broadway, then the battery should have stood still 
lower down, at the corner of Battery Place and Greenwich Street ; but the 
Grand Battery terminated there, and Hills' map shows no distinct battery at 
that point. Mr. Lossing states (" Field Book of the Rev.," vol. ii., p. 594, n.) 
that Washington, on his first arrival in the city, took up his quarters at 
180 Pearl, opposite Cedar Street, his Informant being a survivor of the 
Revolution, and that, on his return from a visit to Philadelphia, June 6th, 
he went to the Kennedy House. That Washington, Jiowever, spent the 
greater part of the summer at the " Morticr House," on Richmond Hill, is 
well known. He was there on June 22d and probably much earlier, as ap- 
pears in Force, 4th Scries, vol. vi., p. 1157, where one Corbie is described 
as keeping a tavern "to the south-cast of General Washington's house, to 
the westward of Bayard's woods, and north of Lispcnard's meadows." The 
house referred to was the Mortier. From Mr. Lossing's informant, and the 
reference in the orders of August 8th, which speaks of the " old head-quar- 
ters on the Broadway," we may conclude that Washington first put up at 
180 Pearl Street ; that if he then went to the Kennedy House at all, it was 
but for a short time; that it is more likely, from the position of the bat- 
teries, that the house he did occupy was one of the two or three next above 
it ; and that in June he moved his quarters to the Morticr House, where he 
remained until September 14th, when he went to the Morris Mansion at 
Harlem Heights. The Kennedy House was Colonel Knox's artillery 
head-quarters during part if not all of the time, his wife being with him 
there up to July 12th. (Drake's Life of A'iipx.) 


thirty-two-pounders and three twolve-poundcrs. In 
March, McDougall's Battery was provided with six guns. 
'Fort George and the Grand Battery. — These 
works at the lower end of the city had been pronounced 
almost useless by Lee, but as it was of course necessary 
to include that point in the system of defence they were 
repaired and greatly strengthened under Washington. In 
Fdrt George were mounted two twclvc-poundcrs and 
foijr thirty-two-pounders. The walls of the Grand Bat- 
tery were banked up from within, and mounted thir- 
teen thirty-two-poundcrs, one twenty-four-pounder, three 
eigpteen-poundcrs, two twclvc-poundcrs, one tliirtccn- 
incn brass mortar, two eight-inch and one ten-inch iron 

Whitehall Battery. — A small work on the White- 
hall dock on the East River, and practically a continua- 
tion of the Grand Battery. It carried two thirty-two- 

Waterbury's Battery. — On the dock at the north- 
east angle of Catherine and Cherry streets, mounting, in 
June, two twelve-pounders. 

Badlam's Redoubt. — On the hill above, south of 
Market and between Madison and Monroe streets. It 
mounted seven guns in March, but appears not to have 
been occupied later in the season. 

Spencer's Redoubt. — This was either the horseshoe 
redoubt at the intersection of Monroe and Rutgers streets, 
or the larger star redoubt between Clinton and Mont- 
gomery, cast of Henry Street. 1 It mounted two twelve- 
pounders and four field-pieces. 

' Spencer's Brigade probal>ly built both works, as it was stationed in the 
vicinity of both. Colonel John Trumbull, who was then Spencer's brigade 
major, and afterwards in the Canada army, says in the " Reminiscences" 


Jones' HILL. — From Spencer's Redoubt a line of in- 
trcnclunenls extended around along the crest of the high 
land above Corlear's Hook to a circular battery on the 
northern slope of Jones' Hill, a little north of the inter- 
section of Broome and Pitt streets, and was pierced for 
eight guns. During Stirling's command it was proposed 
to call this fortification " Washington," but it was known 
subsequently simply as Jones' Hill. From this battery 
the works continued along the line of Grand Street to 
ihc Bowery, and included two more circular batteriesi— 
one on Grand at the corner of Norfolk Street, and the 
other near the corner of Grand and Eldridge streets. / 

Bayard's Hill Redoubt. — Upon this commanding 
site, west of the Bowery, where Grand and Mulborry 
streets intersect, [was erected a powerful irregular licp- 
tagonal redoubt, mounting eight nine-pounders, four three 
pounders, and six royal and cohorn mortars. It had the 
range of the city on one side and the approach by the 
Bowery on the other. Lasher's New York Independent 
companies first broke ground for it about the ist of 
March, and continued digging there as well as on the 
redoubt around the hospital until May 16th, when they 
were relieved, with Washington's " thanks for their mas- 
terly manner of executing the work on Bayard's Hill." ' 
In the March return this battery is called the " Indepen- 
dent Battery," and it also received the name of " Bunker 
Hill," which was retained by the British during their 
occupation ; but its proper name as an American fort 
was " Bayard's Hill Redoubt," this having been given to 

of his own time : " The brigade to which I was attached was encamped on 
the (then) beautiful high ground which surrounded Colonel Rutgers' scat 
near Corlear's Hook." 

Force, 4th Series, vol. v., p. 492. Compare, also, Documents 38 and 41. 


it officially in general orders ; and it was so called in let- 
ters and orders repeatedly through the summer. 

Thomson's Battery.— This was the name given to 
the work thrown up at Horn's Hook by Colonel Drake's 
Westchester minute-men soon after Lee's arrival. It 
mounted eight pieces. 1 

Governor's Island.— The forts erected on this island 
were among the strongest around New York. According 
to a letter from Colonel Prcscott of July 3d, they con- 
sisted of a citadel with outworks, and were garrisoned 
during the latter part of the summer by Prcscott's and 
Nixon's regiments. The works mounted in June four 
thirty-two and four eighteen pounders. 

Paulus OR Powle's Hook.— The point of land on the 
New Jersey side, opposite the city, and which is now the 
site in part of Jersey City. Works were commenced here 
about May 20th, and in June they mounted three thirty- 
two-pounders, three twelve-pounders, and two three- 
pounder field-pieces. 3 

In addition to these, several other redoubts were 
erected north of the town, in which no cannon were 
mounted, and which had no names. They were probably 
thrown up to be ready for occupation in case the enemy 

'This work stood at tlic foot of East Eighty-eighth Street. See Document 
41. Some ten years after the war, Archibald Gracie occupied this site, and it 
became known as Gracic's Point. The writer of a city guide-book in 1807, 
referring to Mr. Gracie, says : " His superb house and gardens stand upon 
the very spot called J/omshook, upon which a fort erected by the Americans 
in 1776 stood till about the year 1794, when the present proprietor caused 
the remains of the military works to be levelled at great expense, and 
erected on their rocky base his present elegant mansion and appurte- 
nances." — The Picture of New York, etc., 1 807, New York. 

a The fortifications erected at the upper part of the island arc noticed in 
Chapter V. Mr. Lossing, it should be s.iid, gives a very full list of the 
Revolutionary works in and around New York (" Field Hook of the Rev.," 
vol. ii., p. 593), from which the list as given here, based on Hills' map. 
differs in several particulars. 

9 o 


succeeded in landing above the city. ' There was a circu- 
lar battery at (he corner of Broome and Forsyth streets ; 
another in the middle of Broadway, opposite White 
Street ; another, of octagonal shape, near the corner of 
Spring and Mercer streets ; a half-moon battery above 
this, between Prince and Spring, on the line of Thompson 
Street; another on the northwesterly continuation of 
Richmond Mill, at McDougall and Houston streets; and 
still another on the river-bank, near the junction of Chris- 
topher and Greenwich streets. The hospital on Duane 
Street was strongly fortified, and breastworks were 
thrown up at numerous points between and around the 
forts. On June 10th the entire number of guns fit for 
service in and around New York was one hundred and 
twenty-one, thirty-three of which were held as a reserve 
for field service, "to be run where the enemy shall make 
their greatest efforts." The mortars were nineteen in 

As for barricades, the city was full of them. Some 
were built of mahogany logs taken from West India car- 
goes. Not a street leading to the water on cither side 
that was not obstructed in this manner ; so that, had the 
enemy been able to gain a footing in the city under the 
fire of their ships, they would still have found it, to use 
Lee's expression, " a disputable field of battle." The City 
Mall Park was almost entirely inclosed. There was a 
barrier across Broadway in front of St. Paul's Church, 
another at the head of Vcsey Street, and others at the 
head of Barclay, Murray, and Warren. On the Park 
Row or Chatham Street side a barricade stretched across 
Bcckman Street; another, in the shape of a right angle, 
stood in Printing Mouse Square, one face opposite Spruce 
Street, the other looking across the Presbyterian church- 


yard and Nassau Street;' another ran across Frankfort 
Street; another at the entrance of Centre Street: and 
still another near it, facing Chatham Street. 

Another element in the defence was a motley little 
fleet, made up of schooners, sloops, row-galleys, and 
whale-boats, and placed under the command ol" Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel Benjamin Tupper,* who had distinguished 
himself by a naval exploit or two in Boston Harbor dur- 
ing the siege. Crews were drafted from the regiments and 
assigned to the various craft, whose particular mission 
was to scour the waters along the New Jersey and Long 
Island coast, to watch for the British fleets, and prevent 
communication bewcen the Tories and the enemy's ships 
already lying in the harbor. Tupper, as commodore, 
appears first in the sloop Hester as his flag-ship, and 
later in the season in the Lady Washington, while 
among his fleet were to be found the Spitfire, General 
Putnam, Shark, and Whiting. The gallant commo- 
dore's earliest cruises were made within the Narrows, 
along the Staten Island shore, and as far down as Sandy 
Hook, where he attempted the feat of destroying the 
light-house. But he found this structure, which the 
enemy had occupied since Major Malcom dismantled it 
in March, a hard piece of masonry to" reduce. He attacked 
it confidently, June 21st, after demanding its surrender, 
but retired when he found that an hour's bombardment 
made no impression upon its walls.' He kept a good look- 
out along these waters, gathered information from descrt- 

1 One side of this barricade ran in front of the Times, and the other in 
front of the Tribune building. 

a This officer was Lieutenant-Colonel of Jonathan Ward's Massachusetts 
Regiment, and subsequently became colonel in the Massachusetts Conti- 
nental Line. 

' Force, 4th Scries, vol. vi., p. ion. 

92 CAMPAIGN OF 1 7/6. 

ers, and when reporting on one occasion that the enemy's 
fleet were short of provisions and the men reduced to 
half allowance, he added, with unction, " May God in- 
crease their wants !" A little later we meet again with 
the adventuresome Tupper and his flotilla. 

As the soldiers went on with their exacting- duties, the 
monotony of the routine was now and then relieved by 
some diversion or excitement. One day there is " Tory- 
riding" ' in the city, in which citizens appear to have 
figured principally. Then the whole camp is startled by 
[ the report that a " most accursed scheme" had come to 
light, just " on the verge of execution," by which Wash- 
ington and all his generals were to have been murdered, 
the magazines blown up, and the cannon spiked by hired 
miscreants in the army at the moment the enemy made 
their grand attack upon the city." Again, on the 9th of 

1 " Thursday, 13th Jutis. — Hero in town very unhappy and shocking 
scenes were exhibited. On Munday night some men called Tories were 
carried and hauled about through t'.io streets, with candles forced to be 
held by them, or pushed in their faces, and their heads burned ; but on 
Wednesday, in the open day, the scene was by far worse ; several, and 
among them gentlemen, were carried on rails ; some stripped naked and 
dreadfully abused. Some of the generals, and especially Pudnam and 
their forces, had enough to do to quell the riot, and make the mob dis- 
perse." — Pastor Shcwkirk's Diary, Doc. 37. 

a The particulars of this plot need hardly be repeated ; indeed, they were 
never fully known. It was discovered that an attempt had been made to 
enlist American^ soldiers into the king's service, who at the proper .time 
should assist the enemy in their plans. They were to spike cannon, blow 
up magazines, and, as at first reported, assassinate our generals ; but the 
latter design seems not to have been proved, though universally believed. 
Governor Tryon and Mayor Matthews, of the city, were suspected of 
furthering the plot and furnishing the funds. Matthews was arrested at 
Flatbiish by a party of officers under Colonel Varnum, but the evidence 
against him was insufficient. Among the soldiers implicated was Thomas 
Mickey, of Washington's guard, who was tried by court-martial, found 
guilty of sedition, mutiny, and correspondence with the enemy, and exe- 
cuted in the presence of the army on June 2SO1. Something of the feeling 
excited by the discovery of the plot is exhibited in the letter from Surgeon 
KusiiH of Colonel Knox's regiment {Document 39). This is better known 
as the " Mickey Plot." 



July, the brigades are all drawn up on their respective 
parade-grounds, listen to the reading for the first time 
of the Declaration of Independence, and receive it, as 
Heath tells us, "with loud huzzas ;" and, finally, to cele- 
brate the event, a crowd of citizens, " Liberty Boys," and 
soldiers collect that evening at Bowling Green and pull 
down the gilded statue of King George, which is then 
trundled to Oliver Wolcott's residence at Litchfield, Ct., 
for patriotic ladies to convert into bullets for the Ameri- 
can soldiers. 1 

But now occurred a much more stirring and important 
event to engage the attention of the army, and this was 
the arrival of the enemy. It was full time for them to 
make their appearance. Nearly three months and a half 
had elapsed since the evacuation of Boston ; the spring 
and a whole month of summer had gone ; the best season 
for active movements was passing rapidly ; and unless the 

1 The following [memorandum, preserved among "Governor Wolcott's 
papers, is of interest in this connection : 

" An Equestrian Statue of George the Third of Great Britain was erected 
in the City of New York on the Bowling Green at the lower end of Broad- 
way. Most of the materials were had but richly gilded to resemble gold 
At the beginning of the Revolution this statue was overthrown. Lead be- 
ing then scarce and dear, the statue was broken in pieces and the metal 
transported to Litchfield a place of safety. The ladies of this village con- 
verted the Lead into Cartridges for the Army, of which the following is an 


Mrs. Marvin, Cartridges . . 6,058 

Ruth Marvin, '"' . 1 1,592 

Laura Wolcott, " . . 8,373 

Mary Ann Wolcott, " . . 10,790 

Frederick " " 936 

Mrs. Beach, " . . 1,802 

Made by sundry persons . . 2,182 

Gave Litchfield Militia on alarm, . . 50 

Let the Regiment of Col. Wigglcsworth have 300 

O. W. 

42,oS8 Cartridges." 

94 CAMPAIGN or 1776. 

British began operations soon, all hope of conquering 
America " in one campaign" would have to be abandoned. 
Rumors of their coming tcok definite shape in the last 
week of June, when word reached camp that an Ameri- 
can privateer had captured a British transport with more 
than two hundred Highlanders as prisoners. On the 
25th and 26th three or four large ships arrived off Sandy 
1 look, one of which proved to be the Greyhound, with 
Sir William Howe on board ; on the 29th a fleet of forty- 
live sail anchored off the same point, and four days later 
the number had increased to one hundred and thirty.' 
This was the fleet from Halifax with Howe's Boston 
veterans. Preparations were made to land them on the 
Long Island coast near the Narrows; but on being in- 
formed that the Americans were posted on a ridge of hills 
not far distant, Howe disembarked his troops opposite on 
Statcn Island," and there went into camp to wait the arri- 
val of the reinforcements from England under Admiral 
Howe. The middle of July saw these also encamped on 
the island, with the fleet increased to nearly three hun- 
dred transports and ships of war. On the 1st of August 
there was an unexpected arrival in the shape of the dis- 
comfited expedition under Generals Clinton and Corn- 
wallis, that was to gain a foothold in the South;' and last 

1 " For two or three days past three or four ships have been dropping in, 
and I just now received an express from an officer appointed to keep a 
lookout on Statcn Island, that forty-five arrived at the Hook to-day — some 
say more ; and I suppose the whole fleet will be in within a day or two." — 

Washington to Hancock, June 2qt/i. 

2 Extract of a letter from an officer in the Thirty-fifth Regiment at Statcn 
Island, July oth, 1776: "Our army consisted of 6155 effectives, on our em- 
barkation at Halifax ; they arc now all safe landed here, and our hcad-quar- 
turs arc at your late old friend, Will Hick's Mansion house." — London 

3 The expedition sailed from Cork for the Cape River in North Carolina, 
where Clinton joined it. It was expected that the loyalists in the State 



ot all, on the 12th of August came the British Guards 
and De Heister's Hessians, after a tedious voyage of 
thirteen weeks from Spithead, completing 1 Iowc's force, 
and swelling the fleet in the Narrows to more than four 
hundred ships. England had never before this sent from 
her shores a more powerful military and naval armament 
upon foreign service. 

The arrival of the enemy hastened Washington's prep- 
arations. The troops which Congress had called out to 
reinforce his army were coming in too slowly, and ex- 
presses were sent to governors, assemblies, and commit- 
tees of safety, announcing the appearance of the enemy, 
and urging in the most pressing terms the instant march / 
of the reinforcements to New York. To his soldiers 
with him the commander-in-chief issued both warn- 
ing and inspiring orders. On the 2d of July, a few days 
after Howe arrived, he reminded them that the time was 
at hand which would probably determine whether Ameri- 
cans were to be freemen or slaves. " The fate of unborn 
millions," he said, " will now depend, under God, on the 
courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unre- 
lenting enemy leaves us no choice but a brave resistance 
or the most abject submission. This is all we can expect. 
We have, therefore, to resolve to conquer or die. Our 
country's honor calls upon us for. a vigorous and manly 
exertion, and if we now shamefully fail we' shall become 
infamous to the whole world. Let us, therefore, rely 

would rise in sufficient numbers to give the expeditionary corps substantial 
aid ; but not over eighteen hundred were mustered, and these under Gen- 
eral McDonald were completely defeated by the North Carolina Militia 
under Colonels Caswell and Lillington at Moore's Creek Bridge on the 
27th of February. The expedition then moved against Charleston, S. C. 
and there met with the famous repulse from Colonel Moultrie off Charles- 
ton Harbor on the 28th of June. Clinton and Cornwallis after this could 
do nothing but join Howe at New York. 

96 campaign or 1776 

upon the goodness of the cause and the aid of the Su- 
preme Being, iii whose hands victory is, to animate and 
encourage us to great and noble actions. The eyes of all 
our countrymen arc now upon us, and we shall have their 
blessings and praises, if happily we arc the instruments 
of saving them from the tyranny meditated against them. 
. . . . Any officer or soldier, or any particular corps, 
distinguishing themselves by any acts of bravery and 
courage, will assuredly meet with notice and rewards ; 
and, on the other hand, those who behave ill will as cer- 
tainly be exposed and punished : the general being re- 
solved, as well for the honor and safety of the country as 
of the army, to show no favor to such as refuse or neglect 
their duty at so important a crisis." 

The digging still went on ; the troops were ordered to 
keep their arms in condition for immediate use; the offi- 
cers cautioned to look after the health of their men, as 
the season was excessively warm and sickly ; and every 
attention to necessary details enjoined. 

In addition to their military and naval commands, the 
two Howes were invested by their government with 
extraordinary powers as civil commissioners. They were 
authorized to issue pardons, and to open up the ques- 
tion of reconciliation and a peaceable settlement of the 
troubles; but their first advances in a civil capacity com- 
pletely failed, though not without furnishing an enter- 
taining episode. On the 14th of July they dispatched 
an officer in a barge with a communication for General 
Washington. The barge was detained by one of Commo- 
dore Tuppcr's boats in the harbor until Washington's 
pleasure in regard to it could be known. Suspecting, 
by previous experience at Boston, that Howe would not 


recognize his military title, Washington consulted a few 
of his officers in the matter, and it was the unanimous 
opinion that should the communication be addressed to 
him as a private individual it could not, with propriety, 
be received. Colonel Reed, the, adjutant-general, and 
Colonel Knox immediately went down the bay and met 
the British officer. The latter, with hat in hand, bowed 
politely and said to Colonel Reed, " I have a letter from 
Lord Howe to Mr. Washington." " Sir," replied Reed, 
" we have no person in our army with that address." 
" But will you look at the address?" continued the officer, 
at the same time taking out of his pocket a letter marked 


New York. 

" No, sir," said Reed, " I cannot receive that letter." " I 
am very sorry," returned the officer, " and so will be Lord 
Howe, that any error in the superscription should prevent 
the letter being received by General Washington." " Why, 
sir," replied Reed, whose instructions were positive not 
to accept such a communication, " I must obey orders;" 
and the officer, finding it useless to press the matter, could 
only repeat the sentiment, " Oh ! yes, sir, you must obey 
orders, to be sure." Then, after exchanging letters from 
prisoners, the officers saluted and separated. The British 
barge had gone but a short distance when it quickly put 
about, and the officer asked by what particular title Wash- 
ington chose to be addressed. Colonel Reed replied, 
" You arc sensible, sir, of the rank of General Washington 
in our army." " Yes, sir, we are," said the officer ; " I am 
sure my Lord Howe will lament exceedingly this affair, 
as the letter is quite of a civil nature, and not of a military 


one. I Ic laments exceedingly that he was not here a little 
sooner." Reed and Knox supposed this to be an allusion 
to the Declaration of Independence, but making no reply, 
they again bowed, and parted, as Knox says, " in the most 
genteel terms imaginable." ' 

But Howe was unwilling to have the matter dropped 
in this fashion, and on the 20th he sent his adjutant-gen- 
eral, Lieutenant-Colonel Patterson, to hold an interview 
with Washington in person, if possible, and urge him to 
receive the letter and also to treat about the exchange of 
prisoners. Patterson landed at the Battery, and was con- 
ducted to Colonel Knox's quarters at the Kennedy House, 
without the usual formality of having his eyes blindfolded. 
Washington, " very handsomely dressed '" and making " a 
most elegant appearance," received him with his suite, 
and listened attentively while Patterson, interspersing his 
words at every other breath with "May it please, your 
Excellency," explained the address on the letter by saying 
that the etc. etc. appended meant every thing. " And, in- 
deed, it might mean any thing," replied Washington, as 
Patterson then proceeded to say, among other things, that 
the benevolence of the king had induced him to appoint 
General and Admiral Howe his commissioners to accom- 
modate the unhappy disputes ; that it would give them 
great pleasure to effect such an accommodation, and that 
he (Colonel Patterson) wished to have that visit considered 
as preliminary to so desirable an object. Washington 
replied that he himself was not vested with any authority 

1 Colonel Ktwx to his wife. — Drake ' s Life of Gen. Knox, p. 131. 

* "General Washington was very handsomely dressed, and made a most 
elegant appearance. Colonel Patterson appeared awe-struck, as if he was 
before something supernatural. Indeed, I don't wonder at it. He was 
before a very great man, indeed." — Ibid. p. 132. 


in the case; that it did not appear that Lord Howe could 
do more than grant pardons, and that those who had 
committed no fault wanted no pardons, as they were 
simply defending what they deemed their indisputable 
rights." Further conversation followed, when Patterson, 
rising to leave, asked, " Has your Excellency no particu- 
lar commands with which you Would please to honor me 
to Lord and General Howe?" " Nothing," replied Wash- 
ington, "but my particular compliments to both;" and, 
declining to partake of a collation prepared for the 
occasion, the British adjutant-general took his depart- 
ure. Again the king's " commissioners" had failed, and 
Washington had preserved the dignity of the young na- 
tion and his own self-respect as the commander of its 

An incident, of greater moment as a military affair, and 
which disturbed Washington as much as the Patterson 
interview must have diverted him, was the easy passage, 
on the 1 2th of July, of two of the British men-of-war, the 
Rose and Phoenix, past all the batteries, unharmed, up 
the North River. Taking advantage of a brisk breeze 
and running tide, the ships with their tenders sailed rapid- 
ly up from the Narrows, and to avoid the fire of the bat- 
teries as much as possible kept near the Jersey shore. 
The American artillerists opened upon them with all their 
guns along the river, but could do them no serious dam- 
age, while by accident, in their haste to load the pieces, 
six of their own gunners were killed. The ships sent 
many shots into the city, some crashing through houses 
but doing no other injury, while the roar of the cannon 
frightened the citizens who had not already moved away, 

: Memorandum of an interview between General Washington and Colonel 
Patterson. — Sparks' Washington, vol. iv., p. 510. 


and caused more to go.' At the upper end of the island, 
mound Fort Washington, where the batteries and river 
obstructions were as yet incomplete, the ships suffered 
still less harm, and sailing by, anchored safely in the broad 
Tappan Bay above. Their object was to cut off the sup- 
plies which came down the river to Washington's army, 
and, as supposed, to encourage the loyalists in the upper 
counties and supply them with arms. Washington ac- 
knowledged that the event showed the weakness and 
inadequacy of the North River line of defences, and re- 
ported to Congress that it developed a possible plan of 
attack by the British upon his rear. Measures were taken 
to annoy if not destroy the ships, and, on the 3d of 
August, Commodore Tupper, with four of his sloops and 
schooners, boldly attacked the enemy, but though, as 
Washington wrote, "our officers and men, during the 
whole affair, behaved with great spirit and bravery," 
neither side sustained serious damage. On the night of 
the 16th two fire-rafts were directed against the ships, 
which were successful so far as to destroy one of the 
tenders; and on the 18th the enemy weighed anchor and 
returned to the Narrows as readily as they came up. 

It was now apparent that the great struggle between 
the two armies could be postponed no longer, and no day 
after the arrival of the Hessians passed that the British 
attack was not looked for. The orders of August 8th 
cautioned the men to be at their quarters, " especially 

' On August 17th Washington requested the New York Convention to 
remove the women, children, and infirm persons, as the city was likely 
soon to be "the scene of a bloody conflict." He stated that when the 
Rose and Phcenix sailed past, " the shrieks and cries of these , poor 
creatures, running every way with their children, was truly distressing." 
Pastor Shewkirk says: "This afTair caused a great fright in the city. Wo- 
men and children, and some with their bundles, came from the lower parts 
and walked to the Bowery, which was lined with people." 


earl}* in the morning or upon the tide of flood," when the 
enemy's fleet might be expected, and every preparation 
was made to resist the landing of the British at any point 
upon Manhattan Island. 1 

Upon Long Island General Greene and his men were 
still at work on the defences, and, since the arrival of the 
enemy, doubly vigilant. Hand's riflemen kept close watch 
at the Narrows and reported every suspicious movement 
of the fleet. Word was brought in on the 9th that a large 
number of regulars were drawn up at the Statcn Island 
ferry, and Greene immediately sent around the order for 
" no officer or soldier to stir from his quarters, that we 
may be. ready to march at a moment's warning, if neces- 
sary." Upon another alarm, when probably he himself 
was indisposed, he directed Colonel Little, the senior regi- 
mental officer present, to superintend the disposition of 
the troops. His hastily written letter, penned apparently 
not long after midnight, runs as follows : 

Thursday Morning [August 8 or 15 ?] 
Dear Sir — By Express from Col Hand and from Red Hook, 
and from on board the Sloop at Governor's Island it is very evident 
there was a General Imbarcation of the Troops last evening from 
Statten Island — doubtless they'l make a dessent this morning. Youl 
please to order all the troops fit for duty to be at their Alarm posts 
near an hour sooner than is common — let their flints arms and ammu- 
nition be examined and everything held in readiness to defend the 
works or go upon a detachment. A few minutes past received an 
Express from Head Quarters. Youl acquaint the Commanding 
officers of Col Hitchcock's Regiment and Col Forman's Regiment 

1 Captain Nathan Hale, the " Martyr-spy," says in a letter of the 20th of 
August : "Our situation has been such this fortnight or more as scarce to 
admit of writing. Wc have daily expected an action — by which means, if 
any one was going, and wc had letters written, orders were so strict for our 
tarrying in camp, that wc could rarely get leave to go and deliver them. 
For about six or eight days the enemy have been expected hourly, when- 
ever the wind and tide in the least favored." — Document 40. 

102 CAMPAIGN OF 1 7/6. 

of this, and direct them to observe the same orders, a'Uo the Artillery 
officers. I am ys, 

N. Greene. 

[Addressed to Col. Little] ' 

Greene had been promoted to the rank of major-gene- 
ral on the 9th, and his old brigade on Long Island given 
to Brigadier-General John Nixon, of Massachusetts, who 
•was promoted from a colonelcy at the same time. A 
new arrangement of the army was effected, and Brigadier- 
General Heard's brigade of five New Jersey regiments 
was ordered to Long Island to reinforce Greene. His 
division, now consisting of these two brigades — Nixon's 
and Heard's — numbered, August 15th, two thousand nine 
hundred men fit for duty. Parts of two Long Island 
militia regiments under Colonels Smith and Remsen 
which joined him about this date, and Colonel Gay's 
Connecticut levies, who had been on that side since the 
1st of August, increased this number to something over 
thirty-five hundred. 

But Greene was not to be a participator in the 
approaching scenes. The prevailing fever which had 
prostrated so many officers and men seized him with all 
but a fatal hold, and he was obliged to relinquish his 
command. He clung to it, however, to the last moment 
in hopes of a change for the better. " I am very sorry," 
he wrote to Washington on the 15th, "that I am under 
the necessity of acquainting you that I am confined to my 
bed with a raging fever. The critical situation of affairs 
makes me the more anxious, but I hope, through the 
assistance of Providence, to be able to ride before the 
presence of the enemy may make it absolutely neces- 
sary;" and he assured the commander-in-chief that his 

'Original in possession of Chas. J. Little, Esq., Cambridge, Mass. 


men appeared to be "in exceeding good spirits," and 
would no doubt be able to render a very good account 
of the enemy should they land on Long Island. On 
the 16th there was no change for the better in his con- 
dition, but on the contrary Livingston, his aid, reported 
that he had "a very bad night of it ;" and in a day or two 
he was removed to New York, to the house of John Inglis 
now the intersection of Ninth Street and Broadway 
where with rest and care he slowly passed the crisis of his 
illness. 1 

On the 20th Washington gave orders to General Sulli- 
van, who had recently returned from Canada, to take the 
command upon Long Island, until General Greene's state 
of health should permit him to resume it." 

1 Greene's Life of Greene, vol. i. 

8 General Orders, August 20, 1776.—. . . " General Sullivan is to take 
command upon Long Island till General Greene's state of health will per- 
mit him to resume it, and Brigadier Lord Stirling is to take charge of 
General Sullivan's division till he returns to it again." 



Right here, before entering upon the details of the 
coming struggle, we may delay a moment to glance at the 
two armies as they lay in their opposite camps waiting to 
engage in the serious business before them. What was 
their composition and organization, what their strength, 
who their officers and leaders ? In the case of the Amer- 
ican troops particularly may these questions be asked, be- 
cause to them and their services the country has long 
acknowledged its obligations, and so far bound itself to 
perpetuate their memory. Who were the men who stood 
with Washington in this first and critical year of our na- 
tional life — who came to this vicinity to fight on strange 
ground for a common cause? We arc called upon to 
remember them, not as soldiers simply, but as public-spir- 
ited citizens arming to secure themselves in their privi- 
leges, or perhaps as ancestors who had a thought for the 
peace and happiness of present generations. 

The original army of the Revolution was that ardent 
though disjointed body of provincials which gathered 
around Boston immediately after the Lexington alarm, and 
came nominally under the command of General Artemas 
Ward, of Massachusetts. As a military corps it entirely 
lacked cohesion, as the troops from New Hampshire, 
Rhode Island, and Connecticut were under independent 
control, and yielded to General Ward's authority only by 


patriotic consent. The appointment of Washington as 
commander-in-chief of all the American forces relieved 
this difficulty, and the adoption by Congress of the Bos- 
ton troops as a Continental army, under the orders and in 
the pay of Congress, gave that army more of a military 
character. But the terms of enlistment were short, and it 
became necessary to reorganize the entire body by new 
enlistments for a year's service from the 1st of January, 
1776. This force thus recruited was the nucleus of the 
army which Washington mustered at New York in the 
present campaign. It consisted ol twenty-seven battalions, 
or "regiments of foot," as they were styled, each divided 
into eight companies, and having a maximum strength of 
about six hundred and forty officers and men. With the 
exception of the First Regiment, or Pennsylvania Riflemen, 
all were from the New England States; and, as already 
stated, twenty-one of them, after the evacuation of Bos- 
ton, marched to New York under the command of Gen- 
erals Heath, Spencer, Sullivan, and Greene. 

This force, diminished by the regiments sent to Canada, 
was quite inadequate for the purposes of the campaign, 
and on the 1st of June Congress issued a call for large re- 
inforcements both for the New York army and that on the 
Canada border. For the former thirteen thousand eight 
hundred troops were voted necessary, and for the latter 
six thousand, while in addition it was resolved to establish 
a " flying camp" of ten thousand men, who could be sent 
wherever needed. The quota Massachusetts was to fur- 
nish for New York was two thousand ; Connecticut, five 
thousand five hundred ; New York, three thousand ; and 
New Jersey, three thousand three hundred. For the fly- 
ing camp, Pennsylvania was to recruit six thousand ; Del- 
aware, six hundred ; and Maryland, three thousand four 

106 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

hundred. All these men were to be militia or State 
troops, but to serve under the orders of Congress and in 
its pay until at least the 1st of December following. 

The necessity of these calls was impressed upon the 
country by urgent letters from the President and mem- 
bers of Congress and the leaders of the day. " The mili- 
tia of the United Colonies," wrote Hancock, " are a body 
of troops that may be depended upon. To their virtue, 
their delegates in Congress now make the most solemn ap- 
peal. They are called upon to say whether they will live 
slaves or die freemen." To the governors and State assem- 
blies he added : " On your exertions at this critical period, 
together with those of the other colonies in the common 
cause, the salvation of America now evidently depends. . . 
Exert, therefore, every nerve to distinguish yourselves. 
Quicken your preparations, and stimulate the good peo- 
ple of your government, and there is no danger, notwith- 
standing the mighty armament with which we are 
threatened, but you will be able to lead them to victory, 
to liberty, and to happiness." But the reinforcements 
came forward slowly, and it was not until the enemy had 
actually arrived that the peculiar dangers of the situation 
were appreciated and the militiamen hurried to Washing- 
ton's assistance at his own pressing call for them. By the 
27th of August, his army, which on July 13th numbered a 
little over ten thousand men fit for duty, had been in- 
creased in the aggregate to twenty-eight thousand ; but 
so many were on the sick list during this month, that he 
could muster not quite twenty thousand effectives, officers 
and men, at the opening of active operations. 

To this force the State of New York contributed thirteen 
regiments. Of her Continental battalions then in the ser- 
vice, three were in the Northern department under Schuy- 


lcr, part of another in the Highlands, and two, commanded 
by Colonels Alexander McDougall and Rudolph Ritzema, 
here with Washington, both of which were largely re- 
cruited from New York City. McDongall, colonel of the 
first battalion, had identified himself early with the lib- 
erty party in the city, became a member of the Provincial 
Congress, and by his zealous and energetic efforts in both 
his civil and military capacity contributed much towards 
preserving the honor and interests of the colony in the 
present crisis. In August he was promoted to the rank 
of brigadier-general in the Continental army, and rose to 
the grade of major-general before the close of the war. 
Nine of the other regiments from this State, chiefly mili- 
tia, formed two brigades under Brigadier-Generals John 
Morin Scott and George Clinton. In Scott's command 
were two baltalions which were credited to and repre- 
sented the city distinctively. The oldest and largest was 
the " First Independent Battalion," commanded by Col- 
onel John Lasher, remembered as one of the substantial 
citizens of the place. A man of property and influence, 
with a taste for military affairs and evidently popular, he 
had been elected colonel of the Independent Companies 
during the colonial regime, and now, with most of his 
officers and men, had taken up the Continental cause.' 
The battalion was a favorite corps, composed of young 
men of respectability and wealth, and when on parade 

1 In a letter to Peter Van Schaack, dated New York, February 23d, 
1776, Fred. Rhinolandcr says : " We are going to raise a new battalion; Col- 
onel Lasher and Gouverncur Morris arc candidates for the command. 
As both the gentlemen have great merit, it is hard to tell which will suc- 
ceed." The reference here is probably to a plan formed by private citizens 
in New York to raise a battalion of fifteen hundred men for nine 
months, on condition that the projectors could appoint the officers. This 
being refused by the Provincial Congress the plan was abandoned. — Life 
of G. Mori is, vol. i. p. 8<j, n. 


was doubtless the attraction of the city. Its companies 
bore separate names, and the uniform of each had some 
distinguishing feature. There were the " Prussian Blues," 
under Captain James Alncr ; the " Oswego Rangers," un- 
der Captain John J. Roosevelt; the" Rangers," under Cap- 
tain James Abecl ; the "Fusilecrs," under Captain Hen- 
ry G. Livingston; the "Hearts of Oak," under Captain 
John Bcrrian ; the "Grenadiers," under Captain Abra- 
ham Van Dyck ; the "Light Infantry," under Captain 
William W. Gilbert; the "Sportsmen," under Captain 
Abraham A. Van Wyck ; the " German Fusileers," under 
Captain William Leonard ; the" Light Horse," under Cap- 
tain Abraham P. Lott; and the " Artillery," under Cap- 
tain Samuel Tudor. As reorganized in the summer of 1776, 
the regiment had for its field officers Colonel John Lasher, 
Lieutenant-Colonel Andrew Stockholm, and Major James 
Abecl. The Second New York City Battalion was 
originally commanded by Colonel William Hcyer, and 
among its companies were the " Brown Buffs," " Rifles," 
"Grenadiers," "Hussars," and " Scotsmen," the latter 
of whom were commanded by Captain Robert Smith, of 
New York, who, after doing good service at various times 
during the war, settled in Philadelphia, where for nearly 
half a century after he filled offices of public and private 
trust. 1 In 1776, in the reappointment of field officers, 
William Malcom, formerly first major, became colonel; 
Isaac Stoutcnburgh, lieutenant-colonel; and James Alner, 
major.' The two remaining regiments of Scott's brigade 

' Sec Biographical Sketches, Part II. 

' The New York Congress voted that the City and County of New York 
should furnish twelve hundred men as their quota of the three thousand 
recently called for, and these were to consist of " the two independent 
battalions." They were composed of ten companies each, which, how- 
ever, never reached their maximum strength. In September Lasher's to- 
tal was 510; Malcom's, 297. 


were commanded by Colonel Samuel Drake, of West- 
chester, and Colonel Cornelius Humphrey, of Dutchess 
County. Scott himself was a man of the highest public 
spirit. A history of the progress of the revolutionary 
sentiment in the Colony of New York would be incom- 
plete without a record of his career. An able lawyer and 
speakeV, he early resisted the pretentions and arbitrary 
policy of the home government, and when war became 
inevitable, he spared no energy to provide for the crisis. 
In 1775 and 1776 he was one of the most active and useful 
members of the Provincial Congress and the Committee 
of Safety. " Nothing from the other side of the water," 
he wrote to a friend in November, 1775, "but a fearful 
looking for of wrath. But let us be prepared for the 
worst. Who can prize life without liberty ? It is a bau- 
ble only fit to be thrown away." He served through the 
present campaign, and then continued in the public ser- 
vice as Secretary of the State of New York and after- 
wards member of the Continental Congress. 

Two other acquisitions to the army in this campaign 
were the brothers James and George Clinton, of Ulster 
County, N. Y., both destined to be prominent charac- 
ters in the Revolution. James Clinton, as colonel of one 
of the Continental regiments, superintended the construc- 
tion of fortifications in the Highlands, and in August was 
promoted to the rank of brigadier-general in the Continen- 
tal service. George was member of Congress, and after 
voting for the Declaration of Independence returned to 
command a militia brigade which the State called out 
during the summer, and which joined Washington's army 
just before the battle of Long Island. These troops were 
commanded by Colonel Levi Paulding, of Ulster Coun- 
ty; Colonels Morris Graham and James Swartwout, of 


Dutchess : Colonel Isaac Nichol, of Orange ; and Colonel 
Thomas Thomas, of Westchester. Before this, in Novem- 
ber, attempt was made to raise three regiments 
of militia in New York City to be commanded respectively 
by Henry Remscn, John Jay, and Abraham P. Lott; but 
the enlistment of men into other corps made it impossible 
to organize them. 1 In this campaign, too, we first meet 
with young officers from this State who subsequently 
rose to distinction in the service. Here Alexander 
Hamilton appears ; and we read that upon the certificate 
of Captain Stephen Badlam, that he had examined Ham- 
ilton and found him qualified for a command, the New 
York Convention appointed him, March 14th, Captain of 
the " Provincial Company of Artillery of the Colony." 
Among others were Lieutenant-Colonel Henry B. Liv- 
ingston, Majors Nicholas Fish and Richard Piatt, and 
Hugh Hughes, teacher of a classical school, who, as as- 
sistant Quartermaster-General, rendered, at least on one 
occasion, a most important service *o the army. 

Long Island was represented in the New York quota 
by two regiments of militia and two small companies of 
" troop." The Suffolk County regiment, at the eastern 
end, was commanded by Colonel Josiah Smith, of South 
Haven parish, and that from King's County by Colonel 
Rutgert Van Brunt. But the militia, especially in dissaf- 
fected Kings and Queens counties, could be mustered, 
as volunteers, with difficulty ; and early in August the 
New York Provincial Congress ordered a draft to be 
made from these counties, and the troops so raised to be 
commanded by Colonel Jcronimus Remscn, of Queens, 

1 Lewis Morris, one of the Signers of the Declaration, was appointed 
brigadier-general of the Westchester County militia, but he remained in 
Congress until later in the fall, when he took the field for a short time with 
New York militia iti the Highlands. 


with Nicholas Cowenhoven, of Kings, for lieutenant-colo- 
nel, and Richard Thorne, of Queens, for major. Colonel 
Smith's lieutenant-colonel at this time was John Sands, 
and his major, Abraham Remsen. The two regiments — 
Smith's and Remscn's — did not report to Greene until 
August 15th and after, and mustered together probably 
less than five hundred men. The troopers, not over fifty 
in all, were a few horsemen from Brooklyn under Captain 
Adolph Waldron and Lieutenant William Boerum ; and 
others, representing King's County, under Captain Lam- 
bert Suydam. About the middle of August, Nathaniel 
Woodhull, of Mastic, brigadier-general of the Long Island 
militia, and now President of the State Convention, drop- 
ping his civil functions, repaired to the Island to render 
Whatever aid the situation might demand. A man of the 
purest motives and capable of doing good service, an un- 
happy, although a soldier's fate, awaited him. 

New Jersey at the outbreak of the war met an obstacle 
to hearty co-operation with the other colonies in the con- 
duct of William Franklin, her royal governor. Little 
sympathy had he with the revolutionary movement, and 
his influence was powerful in keeping men out of it, until 
the aroused State legislature ordered his arrest. In 
William Livingston, her new governor, New Jersey found 
• a patriot and civil leader of the right stamp for the emer- 
gency. Part of the year he acted in a military capacity, 
and directed the movements of the militia in the vicinity 
of Amboy and Elizabeth. As the Tory clement was very 
considerable here, the State found the same difficulty 
experienced by New York in raising troops for the army ; 
but she furnished a good proportion. Her three Conti- 
nental regiments under Colonels Dayton, Maxwell, and 
Winds, were in the Canada army during the present 

I 1 "» CAM PA IGN OF 1 776. 

campaign. In the spring- and summer the State sent 
several detachments of militia, under Lieutenant-Colonels 
Ward and Cadmus and other officers, to assist in fortifying 
New York. In answer to the last call of Congress, the 
legislature voted to raise a brigade of five battalions, to 
be known as "new levies," to serve until December 1st, 
and to each man that would enlist a bounty of three 
pounds was offered. The command of the brigade was 
given to Colonel Nathaniel Heard, of Woodbridge, now 
promoted to a State brigadier. The colonels were Philip 
Van Cortland, whose regiment was recruited in Bergen, 
Essex, and Burlington counties ; David Forman, with 
four companies from Middlesex and four from Monmouth ; 
Ephraim Martin, with four from Morris and four from 
Sussex ; Philip Johnston, with three from Somerset and 
five from Hunterdon ; and Silas Newcomb, with men 
from Salem, Gloucester, Burlington, and Cumberland. 
In September the command numbered seventeen hundred 
and sixty-two enlisted men, and one hundred and sixty 
officers. 1 We shall find these troops figuring in the 
movements on Long Island. 

Pennsylvania was well represented in this campaign. 
Her troops participated in nearly every engagement, and 
had the opportunity in more than one instance of acquit- 
ting themselves with honor. Besides her large body of 
" associators," or home guards, many of whom marched 
into New Jersey, the State sent four Continental regi- 
ments under Colonels Wayne, St. Clair, Irvine, and De 
Haas, to Canada, and eight other battalions, three of 
them Continental, to the army at New York. Of these, 
the oldest was commanded by Colonel Edward Hand, of 

1 List of the Officers and Men from New Jersey who served in (he Revohition. 
By Adjutant-General W. S. Stryker. 



Lancaster. It was the first of the Continental establish- 
ment, where it was known as the " rifle" corps. Enlisting 
in 1775, under Colonel Thompson, it joined the army at 
the siege of Boston, re-enlisted for the war under Colonel 
Hand in 1776, and fought all along the Continent from 
Massachusetts to South Carolina, not disbanding until the 
peace was signed in 1783. Hand himself, a native of Ire- 
land, and, like many others in the service, a physician by 
profession, had served in the Dritish army, was recognized 
as a superior officer, and we find him closing his career as 
Washington's adjutant-general and personal friend. The 
two other regiments, raised on the Continental basis, were 
commanded by Colonels Robert Magaw, formerly major 
of Thompson's regiment, and John Shee, of Philadelphia. 
The remaining battalions were distinctively State troopsT" 
and formed part of the State's quota for the Flying Camp. 
Colonel Samuel Miles, subsequently mayor of Philadel- 
phia, commanded what was known as the First Regiment 
of Riflemen. Unlike any other corps, it was divided into 
two battalions, which on their enlistment in March aggre- 
gated five hundred men each. The lieutenant-colonel of 
the first was Piper; of the second, John Brodhead. The 
majors were Paton and Williams. Another corps was 
known as the First Regiment of Pennsylvania Musketry, 
under Colonel Samuel John Atlee, of Lancaster County, 
originally five hundred strong, and recruited in Chester 
and the Piquca Valley. Atlee had been a soldier in his 
youth in the frontier service, afterwards studied law, and 
in 1775 was active in drilling companies for the war. 
Mercer, who knew a good soldier when he met him, wrote 
to Washington that Atlee was worthy his regard as an 
officer of " experience and attention," and his fine conduct 
on Long Island proved his title to this word of commen- 

I 14 CAMPAIGN OF 1776. 

dation from his superior. How much of a man and soldier 
he had in his lieutenant-colonel, Caleb Parry, the events 
of August 27th will bear witness. The three other batta- 
lions were incomplete. Two were composed of Berks 
County militia, under Lieutenant-Colonels Nicholas Lutz 
and Peter Kachlein. Lutz's major was Edward Burd, and 
their colonel was Henry Haller, of Reading, who did not 
join the army until after the opening of the campaign. 
Another detachment consisted of part of Colonel James 
Cunningham's Lancaster County militiamen, under Major 
William Hay. 

Delaware furnished more than her proportion to the 
flying camp. The " Lower Counties," as this little State 
had been known in colonial times, had shown no haste to 
break with the mother country. Her people were chiefly 
farmers of a peaceable disposition, who used herbs for tea 
and felt no weight of oppression. But Delaware had her 
public-spirited men, who, when the crisis came, felt that 
the " counties" must take their place by the side of the 
colonies in the pending conflict. Among these were 
Thomas MacKean and Caesar Rodney. Rodney's right- 
hand man in his patriotic efforts was John Haslet, born in 
Ireland, once a Presbyterian minister, now a physician in 
Dover, "tall, athletic, of generous and ardent feelings." 
The news of the adoption of the Declaration of Indepen- 
dence Haslet celebrated with "a turtle feast;" and he 
did more. Already he had begun to raise a regiment for 
the field, and five weeks before the opening battle it left 
Dover eight hundred strong, composed of some of the 
best blood and sinew Delaware had to offer.' 

Maryland raised as her contingent for this campaign 
four regiments and seven independent companies ; but of 

1 Delaware's Revolutionary Soldiers. By William G. Whiteley, Esq., 1875. 

r;i - "' ' n-'.i [■ in.'.?" reC/IMknt uk tout itenn it 


these, Small wood's battalion and four of the companies 
alone had joined the army when hostilities commenced. 
Though forming part of the State's quota for the flying 
camp, this was far from being a hastily-collected force. 
It stands upon record that while Massachusetts was pre- 
paring for the contest in the earlier days, there were men 
along the Chesapeake and the Potomac who took the 
alarm with their northern brethren. Mordecai Gist, 
Esq., of " Baltimore town," was among the first to snuff 
the coming storm, and the first to act, for he tells us that 
as early as December, 1774, at the expense of his time and 
hazard of his business, he organized "a company com- 
posed of men of honor, family, and fortune," to be ready 
for any emergency. The Lexington news, four months 
later, found the best part of Maryland ready to arm. In 
Baltimore, William Buchanan, lieutenant of the county, 
collected a body of the older citizens for home defence, 
while their unmarried sons and others organized them- 
selves into two more companies, donned "an excellent 
scarlet uniform," and chose Gist for their leader. When 
the State called for troops at large many of these young 
men responded, and in the spring of 1776 made up three 
companies, which, with six other companies that gath- 
ered at Annapolis from the surrounding country, formed 
the first Maryland battalion of " State regulars." William 
Smallwood, living on the banks of the Potomac, in Charles 
County, was chosen colonel ; Francis Ware, lieutenant- 
colonel ; and Mordecai Gist, first major. On the day it 
left for the field, July 10th, it numbered, inclusive of 
Captain Edward Vcazcy's large independent company 
from the Eastern Shore, seven hundred and fifty men. 
The State sent no better material into the service. With- 
out cares, patriotic, well drilled, well led, priding them- 

Il6 CAMPAIGN OF 1776. 

selves in their soldierly appearance, both officers and men 
were a notable and much needed acquisition to Washing- 
ton's army. 

Men from Virginia, too, were to take an active part in 
this campaign, but not until after it had opened. The 
State had nine regiments organized for service, five of 
which, under Colonels Weedon, Reed, Scott, Elliott and 
Buckner, joined the army during the fall. There were 
several Virginia officers on the ground, however, as early 
as July and August, one of whom was a host in himself. 
This was General Hugh Mercer, who had been a surgeon 
in the Pretender's army on the field of Culloden ; who 
afterward coming to America figured as a volunteer in 
Braddock's defeat, and then settled down to practice as a 
physician in Fredericksburg. Appointed a Continental 
Brigadier, Washington intrusted him with the important 
command of the New Jersey front, where he kept a con- 
stant watch along the shore opposite Staten Island. He 
had at various times from three to six thousand troops 
under him, composed of Pennsyvania and New Jersey 
home guards and militia, but which were never enrolled 
as a part of Washington's army.' 

From New England, as we have seen, came the troops 
sent on from Boston by Washington, which formed the 
nucleus or basis of the force gathered at New York. 
These were all Continental or established regiments, and 
were reinforced from this section during the summer by 
militia and State troops. 

Massachusetts furnished the Continental battalions 
commanded by Colonels William Prcscott, of Pcpperell ; 

1 Durkee's Continentals garrisoned Powle's Hook, and Bradley's Connec- 
ticut regiment was at Bergen, both being returned on Washington's rolls, but 
otherwise under Mercer's orders. 


John Glover, of Marblchcad ; Moses Little, of Newbury- 
port ; John Nixon, of Framingham ; Jonathan Ward, of 
Southboro ; Israel Hutchinson, of Salem ; Ebenezer 
Learned, ^'of Oxford ; Loammi Baldwin, of Woburn ; 
John Bailey, of Hanover ; Paul Dudley Scrgcnt, of 
Gloucester, and Joseph Read. In August, Brigadier- 
General John Fellows, of Sheffield, brought down three 
regiments of militia under Colonels Jonathan Holman, 
of Worcester County, Jonathan Smith, of Berkshire, 
and Simeon Cary, with men from Plymouth and Bristol 
counties. The State also sent the only artillery regiment ' 
then in the service, under Colonel Henry Knox, of 

Many of these officers named had already made some- 
thing of a record for themselves. Prescott will be for- 
ever associated with Bunker Hill. With him there were 
Nixon, who was severely wounded. Ward, Little, Sar- 
gent, and not a few* of the officers and men who were 
here in the present campaign. Many of them were 
representative citizens. Little, of Newburyport, whose 
name we have seen associated with the defences of Long 
Island, had been surveyor of the king's lands, owned 
large tracts in his own right, and was widely known as 
a man of character and influence. As an officer he was 
distinguished for his judgment and great self-possession 
in the field. His lieutenant-colonel, William Hcnshaw, 
of Leicester, belonged to the line of Henshaws whose 
ancestor had fallen in the English Revolution in defence 
of popular rights and privileges. A man of the old 
type, with cocked hat and provincial dress, modest and 

'At New York, the 'artillery was increased by Captain Alexander Hamil- 
ton's company, and soldiers were detached from the several regiments to act 
as gunners in consequence of Knox's inability to furnish enough from his 
own regiment to man all the points. 



brave, he writes home to his wife one day that he finds 
it difficult to stop profanity among the troops ; another 
day he hopes his children are improving in all the 
graces ; and then he is heard of in the heat of some 
engagement. He was the first adjutant-general of the 
provincial army around Boston in 1775, and served in 
that capacity with the rank of colonel until relieved by 
General Gates. The services rendered by Colonel and 
afterwards General Glover in this as well as in other cam- 
paigns is a well-known record. Learned and Nixon be- 
came Continental brigadiers. Shepherd, Brooks, Jack- 
son, Winthrop Sargent, and many other officers from this 
State, distinguished themselves in the later years of the 
Revolution. But perhaps no man proved his worth 
more in this campaign than Colonel Rufus Putnam, of 
Brookfield, Washington's chief engineer. He suc- 
ceeded Colonel Gridley at Boston ; and at New York, 
where engineering skill of a high order was demanded in 
the planning and construction of the works, he showed 
himself equal to the occasion. That Washington put a 
high estimate on his services, appears from more than 
one of his letters. 1 

Rhode Island at this time had two regiments in the 
field. In 1775 they were around Boston ; in 1776 they 
were here again with the army — Varnum's Ninth and 
Hitchcock's Eleventh Continentals. A third regiment 
from this State, under Colonel Lippctt, did not join the 
army until September. Varnum and Hitchcock were ris- 
ing young lawyers of Providence, the former a graduate of 
Brown University, the latter of Yale. Hitchcock's lieu- 
tenant-colonel was Ezekiel Cornell, of Scituatc, who sub- 

1 Document 43, Part II., contains interesting and important extracts from 
Colonel Putnam's Journal, now published for the first time. 



sequently served in Congress and became commissary- 
general of the army. Greene, Varnum, Hitchcock, and 
Cornell were among those Rhode Islanders who early 
resisted the pretensions of the British Ministry. In the 
discipline and soldierly bearing of these two regiments 
Greene took special pride, and not a few of their officers 
subsequently earned an honorable reputation. Varnum 
was created a brigadier ; Hitchcock, as will be seen, 
closed his career as a sacrifice to the cause ; Colonels 
Crary and Angcll and the Olncys served with the highest 
credit ; and the men of the regiments, many of them, 
fought through the war to the Yorktown surrender. 

In proportion to her population, no State contributed 
more men to the army in 1776 than Connecticut, nor 
were all ranks of society more fully represented. For- 
tunately the State had in Trumbull, its governor, just 
the executive officer which the times demanded. A man 
of character and ability, greatly respected, prompt, zea- 
lous, ardent in the cause, his words and calls upon the 
people were seldom unheeded ; and the people were gen- 
erally as patriotic as their governor. In the present cri- 
sis Connecticut sent to New York six; Continental battal- 
ions, seven of " new levies," and twelve of militia. Her 
Continentals were commanded by Colonels Samuel Hol- 
den Parsons, 1 of Lyme ; Jedediah Huntington, of Lebanon; 
Samuel Wyllys, of Hartford ; Charles Webb, of Stam- 
ford ; John Durkee, of Bean Hill, near Norwich ; and An- 
drew Ward,' of Guilford. The " levies" were the troops 

' On his promotion to a brigadier-generalship in August, Parsons was suc- 
ceeded by his lieutenant-colonel, John Tyler. 

' This was the same officer who came down with Lee in the spring. When 
his regiment returned home he was put in command of another raised on the 
continental basis. He joined the army in August, but did not cross to Long 


1 20 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

raised in answer to the last call of Congress, and were com- 
manded by Colonels Gold Selleck Silliman, of Fairfield ; 
Phillip Burr Bradley, of Ridgefield ; William Douglas, 
of Northford ; Fisher Gay, of Farmington ; Samuel Sel- 
den, of Hadlyme ; John Chester, of Wcthcrsfield ; and 
Comfort Sage, of Middletown. Among these names will 
be recognized many which represented some of the oldest 
and best families in the State. Wyllys was a descendant 
of one of the founders of Hartford. His father held the 
office of Secretary of State for sixty-one years ; his grand- 
father had held L it before that, and after the Revolution 
the honor fell to the colonel himself. The three held the 
office in succession for ninety-eight years. Three members 
of this family, which is now extinct, were in the army dur- 
ing this campaign, and two served with honor through the 
war. From Lebanon came Colonel Jedediah Huntington 
and his two brothers, Captains Joshua and Ebenezer. 
They were sons of Jabez Huntington, who like Trumbull 
was a type of the patriotic citizen of the Revolution. Al- 
though his business and property, as a West India mer- 
chant, would be greatly endangered if not ruined by the 
war, he and his famjly cheerfully ignored their personal 
interests in their devotion to the common cause. The 
three brothers and their brother-in-law, Colonel John 
Chester, served through the present campaign as they 
had in the previous one, and two of them, Jedediah and 
Ebenezer, fought to the end of the struggle. Parsons, 
who subsequently rose to the rank of a Continental ma- 
jor-general, Wyllys and Webb, were among those who 
pledged their individual credit to carry out the successful 
enterprise against Ticonderoga in 1775. In his section 
of the State few men were more influential than Colonel 
Silliman, of Fairfield, where, before the war, he had held 


the office of king's attorney. After the present cam- 
paign, in the course of which lie was more than once en- 
gaged with the enemy, he was appointed a State briga- 
dier, rendered further service during the British forays 
into Connecticut, and marched with troops to the Hud- 
son Highlands upon Burgoync's approach from Canada. 
Colonel Douglas, of Northford, engaged heart and hand 
in the struggle. Joining Montgomery's command in 
1775, he served in the flotilla on Lake Champlain, and was 
subsequently appointed commodore by Congress ; but 
accepting a colonelcy of Connecticut levies he marched to 
New York in 1776, after first advancing the funds to equip 
his regiment. With Silliman he enjoyed the confidence 
and good opinion of the commander-in-chief, and both 
were appointed to command regiments to be raised for 
the Connecticut Continental Line. Another of those citi- 
zen-soldiers who came from the substantial clement in the 
population was Colonel Seldcn. A descendant of the 
Seldcns who were among the first settlers in the Connec- 
ticut Valley, fifty years of age, possessing a large estate, 
incapacitated for severe military duty, the father of v t\velvc 
children, he nevertheless answered the governor's call 
for troops, and joined the army at New York, from which 
he was destined not to return. Durkee, Knowlton, Hull, 
Sherman, Grosvenor, Bradley, afterwards a Continental 
colonel, and many others, were men from Connecticut, 
who gave the country their best services. The militia 
regiments from this State turned out at the governor's 
call upon the arrival of the enemy. Of the fourteen he 
designated to march, twelve reported at New York be- 
fore August 27th, each averaging three hundred and fifty 
men, with Oliver Wolcott as their brigadier-general,' than 

1 The original letter from Trumbull to Wolcott, among the lattcr*s papers, 

122 CAMPAIGN OF 1776. 

whom no man in Connecticut had done more to further 
the public interests of both the State and the nation. 
Signing the Declaration in 1776, he was to be found in 
the following year fighting Burgoync in the field, and af- 
terwards constantly active in a military or civil capacity 
until the success of the cause was assured. 

Pass these men in review, and we have before us not 
a small proportion of those " fathers" of the Revolution, 
to whose exertions and sacrifices America owes her inde- 
pendence. It was a crude, unmilitary host, strong only as 
a body of volunteers determined^ to resist an invasion of' 
their soil. Here and there was an officer or soldier who 
had served in previous wars, but the great mass knew 
nothing of war. The Continental or established regi- 
ments formed much less than half the army, and some of 
these were without experience or discipline ; very few 
had been tested under fire. As to arms, they carried all 
sorts — old flint-locks, fowling-pieces, rifles, and occasion- 
ally good English muskets captured by privateers from 
the enemy's transports. Not all had bayonets or equip- 
ments. Uniforms were the exception ; even many of the 
Continentals were dressed in citizens' clothes.' The mili- 

informing him of his appointment, states that the fourteen regiments had 
been called out upon " the most pressing application of General Washing- 
ton." The governor adds : " Having formed raised expectations of your 
disposition and ability to serve your country in this most important crisis, 
on which the fate of America seems so much to depend, I trust you will 
cheerfully undertake the service," etc. General Wolcott proceeded at once 
to New York, and was with the militia in the city during the fighting on Long 
Island, and for some time after. As to the number of the regiments that came 
down, sec Colonel Douglas' letter of August 23d (Document 22), where he 
says twelve were on the parade the day before. 

1 When it was proposed to put the Iioston army on the new Continental 
basis on January 1st, 1776, Washington evidently hoped to have it all uni- 
formed. Thus his orders of December nth, 1 775, read : " As uniformity and 
decency in dress arc essentially necessary in the appearance and regularity 


tiamen, hurriedly leaving their farms and affairs, came 
down in homespun, while some of the State troops 
raised earlier in the spring appeared in marked contrast 
to them, both in dress and discipline. Smallwood's 
Marylanders attracted attention with their showy scarlet 
and buff coats. The Delawares, with their blue uniform, 
were so nearly like the Hessians as to be mistaken for them 
in the field. Miles' Pcnnsylvanians wore black hunting 
shirts ; and Lasher's New York battalion perhaps ap- 
peared in the various uniforms ol gray, blue and green 
worn by the independent companies. The general and 
regimental officers in the army were distinguished by 
different-colored cockades and sashes. For regimental 

of an army, his Excellency recommends it earnestly to the officers to put 
themselves In a proper uniform. . . . The general by no means recom- 
mends or desires officers to run into costly or expensive regimentals ; no 
matter how plain or coarse, so that they arc but uniform in their color, cut, 
and fashion. The officers belonging to those regiments whose uniforms are 
not yet fixed upon had better delay making their regimentals until they are." 
The orders of January 5th, 1776, say : " The regimentals, which have been 
made up, and drawn for, may be delivered to the respective Colonels, by the 
Quartermaster-General, to the order of those Colonels, who drew them at such 
prices as they have cost" the continent, which is much cheaper than could 
otherwise be obtained. As nothing adds more to the appearance of a man 
than dress, and a proper degree of cleanliness in his person, the General hopes 
and expects that each regiment will contend for the most soldierlike appear- 
ance." These " regimentals" wcrcof a brown color. That Little's and Hitch- 
cock's men, or most of them, were in uniform when they came to New York, 
appears from General Greene's Providence order of April 4th (ante, p. 62). A 
description of the colors of Colonel Joseph Read's Massachusetts Continental 
regiment refers to the " uniform of the regiment;" so doubtless most of 
the Boston army was in uniform. But whether they were kept supplied 
with uniforms may be doubted. The men wore out their clothes fast while 
throwing up the works, and Washington speaks of the " difficulty and ex- 
pense" of providing new ones. (Orders, July 24th, 1776.) At this date he docs 
not insist on uniforms, but recommends the adoption of the hunting shirt and 
breeches as a cheap and convenient dross, and as one which might have its 
terrors for the enemy, who imagined that every rebel so dressed was " a com- 
plete marksman." A valuable article on " The Uniforms of the American 
Army" may be found in the Magazine of American History, for August, 1877, 
by Professor Asa Bird Gardner, of the West Point Military Academy. 

124 CAMPAIGN OK 1 776. 

colors, each battalion appears to have carried those of its 
own design. One of the Hags captured by the Hessians on 
Long Island was reported by a Hessian officer to have 
been a red damask standard, bearing the word " Liberty" 
in its centre. Colonel Joseph Read's Massachusetts Conti- 
nentals carried a flag with a light buff ground, on which 
there was the device of a pine-tree and Indian-corn, em- 
blematical of New-England fields. Two officers were 
represented in the uniform of the regiment, one of whom, 
with blood streaming from a wound in his breast, pointed 
to children under the pine, with the words, " For pos- 
terity I bleed." ' 

Had this force acquired the discipline and been har- 
dened by the service which made Washington's troops 
later in the war a most trusty and effective body, the 
campaign of 1776 would have shown another record. 
But not the less arc we to respect it, with all its failings 
and defeats. If not all the men were " patriots ;" if 
some lost faith in the cause ; if others deserted it entirely 
and joined the enemy ; if some entered the army from 
mercenary motives and proved cravens in the field ; if still 
others who were honest enough in their intentions were 
found to be wretched material for the making of good 
soldiers — this was only the common experience of all 
popular struggles. As a body, it fairly represented the 
colonists in arms ; and as an army, it did its share in 
bringing about the final grand result. 

To recapitulate : Washington's army, at the opening 
of the campaign on August 27th, consisted of seventy- 
one regiments or parts of regiments, twenty-five of 
which were Continental, aggregating in round numbers 

1 Force, 5th Series, vol. ii., p. 244. 


twenty-eight thousand five hundred officers and men. 
Of these, Massachusetts furnished seven thousand three 
hundred ; Rhode Island, eight hundred ; Connecti- 
cut, nine thousand seven hundred ; New York, four 
thousand five hundred ; New Jersey, one thousand 
five hundred ; Pennsylvania, three thousand one hun- 
dred ; Delaware, eight hundred ; and Maryland, nine 
hundred. Between eight and nine thousand were on the 
sick-list or not available for duty, leaving on the rolls not 
far from nineteen thousand effectives, most of them levies 
and militia, on the day of the battle of Long Island.' As 
officered and brigaded at this date the army stood as fol- 
lows : 

1 The last official return of the army before the battle, published in Force's 
Archives, bears date of August 3d ; the next about September 12th. The latter 
is the proper basis for making an estimate of the numbers for August 27th, as 
it includes all the regiments except Haslet's known to be then present, and 
no more. On September 12th the total of rank and file on the rolls, not in- 
cluding the absent sick, was 24,100. To these add 1800 commissioned offi- 
cers and 2500 sergeants, drums and fifes, and the total strength is 28,400. 
On the same date, rank and file, fit for duty, numbered 14,700. Add to these 
1000 lost en Long Island and 3500 officers, sergeants, drums and fifes fit for 
duty, and we have, all told, between 19,000 and 20,000 effectives on August 
27th ; and these figures correspond with Washington's statement of Septem- 
ber 2d : ■" Our number of men at present fit for duty is under 20,000." The 
army suffered greatly from sickness during August and September. General 
Heath writes in his Memoirs, under date of August 8th : " The number of 
sick amounted to near 10,000 ; nor was it possible to find proper hospitals or 
proper necessaries for them. In almost every farm, stable, shed, and even 
under the fences and bushes, were the sick to be seen, whose countenances 
were but an^ index of 'the dejection of spirit and the distress they endured." 
On the 4th of August, Colonel Parsons wrote to Colonel Little : " My Doctor 
and Mate arc sick. I have near Two Hundred men sick in Camp; my 
neighbours arc in very little better state." And he asks Little to consent to his 
surgeon's mate remaining with him until his own surgeons were better. 
[MS. letter in possession of Charles J. Little, Esq.] 

126 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 



Colonel William Grayson, of Virginia; Lieutenant-Colonel Richard 
Cary, Jr., of Massachusetts; Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel B. Webb, of 
Connecticut ; Lieutenant Tench Tilghman, of Pennsylvania. 

Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Hanson Harrison, of Virginia. 

Colonel Joseph Reed, of Philadelphia. 

Colonel Stephen Moylan, of Pennsylvania. 


Colonel Joseph Trumbull, of Connecticut 

Colonel William Palfrey, of Massachusetts. 

Colonel Gunning Bedford, of Pennsylvania. 

Director of the General Hospital. 
Doctor John Morgan, of Pennsylvania. 

Chief Engineer. 
Colonel Rufus Putnam, of Massachusetts. 

Putnam's Division. 



Major Aaron Burr, Major . 

the two armies. 127 

Clinton's Brigade, 
brigadier-general james clinton.' 

Brigade-Major, David Henly. 

Colonel Joseph Read, Massachusetts 505' 

" Ebenezer Learned, " 521 

" John Bailey, " 503 

" Loammi Baldwin, " 468 

Scott's Brigade, 
brigadier-general john morin scott. 

Brigade-Major, Nicholas Fish. 

Colonel John Lasher, New York 510 

" William Malcom, " 297 

" Samuel Drake, " 459 

" Cornelius Humphrey, " 261 

Fellows' Brigade, 
brigadier-general john fellows. 

Brigade-Major, Mark Hopkins. 

Colonel Jonathan Holman, Massachusetts 606 

" Simeon Cary, " 569 

" Jonathan Smith, " 551 

" John Glover,' " 365 

Heath's Division, 
major-general william heath. 


Major Thomas Henly, Major Israel Keith. 

1 General Clinton being absent all summer In the Highlands, the brigade 
was commanded first by Colonel Read, and afterwards by Colonel Glover. 

'The figures given here represent the total number of enlisted men on 
the rolls on September 12, absent sick included. In the case of some of 
the regiments, especially from the flying camp, under Lutz, Kachlein, and 
others, only an estimate can be formed. The strength of these is noted in 
connection with the losses on Long Island in the next chapter. The Con- 
necticut militia regiments arc credited with 350 men each, as Washington 
gives the figures. 

3 Glover's regiment did not join the army at New York until August. It 
was assigned on the 12th to Stirling's brigade, and on the 15th to Fellows'. 

128 campaign of 1 776. 

Mifflin's Brigade, 
brigadier-general thomas mifflin. 

Brigade-Major, Jonathan Mifflin. 

Colonel Robert Magaw, Pennsylvania 480 

" John Shee, " 496 

" Israel Hutchinson, Massachusetts 513 

" Paul Dudley Sargent, 1 " 527 

" Andrew Ward, Connecticut 437 

Clinton's Brigade, 
brigadier-general george clinton. 

Brigade-Major, Albert Pawling. 

Colonel Isaac Nichol, New York 289 

" Thomas Thomas, " 354 

" James Swartwout, " 364 

" Levi Paulding, " 368 

" Morris Graham, " 437 

Spencer's Division, 
major-general joseph spencer. 

Major William Peck, Major Charles Whiting. 

Parsons' Brigade, 
brigadier-general samuel holden parsons. 

Brigade-Major, Thomas Dyer. 

Colonel Jedediah Huntington, Connecticut 348 

" Samuel Wyllys, " 530 

1 Sargent's and Ward's reported on the ground in August. They were 
probably in Mifflin's brigade. 


Colonel John Durkee, Connecticut • 520 

" John Tyler, " 569 

" Jonathan Ward, Massachusetts 502 

Wadsworth's Brigade, 
brigadier-general james wadsworth. 

Brigade-Major, John Palsgrave Wyllys. 

Colonel Gold Sellcck Silliman, Connecticut 415 

" Fisher Gay, " 449 

" Comfort Sage, " 482 

" Samuel Seldcn, " 464 

" William Douglas, " 506 

" John Chester, " 535 

" Phillip Burr Bradley, " 569 

Sullivan's Division, 
major-general john sullivan. 


Major Alexander Scammell, Major Lewis Morris, Jr. 

Stirling's Brigade, 
brigadier-general lord stirling. 

Brigade-Major, W. S. Livingston. 

Colonel William Smalhvood, Maryland 600 

" John Haslet, Delaware 750 

" Samuel Miles, Pennsylvania 650 

" Samuel John Atlee, " 300 

Lieutenant-Colonel Nicholas Lutz, " 200 

" " Peter Kachlein, " 200 

Major Hay, " 200 


i30 campaign of 1 776. 

McDougall's Brigade. 

brigadier-general alexander mcdougall. 

Brigade-Major, Richard Piatt. 

Late McDougall's, New York 428 

Colonel Rudolph Ritzcma, New York 434- 

" Charles Webb, Connecticut 542 

" Jonathan Brewer (Artificers) 584 

Greene's Division, 
major-general nathaniel greene. 


Major William Blodgett, Major William S. Livingston. 

Nixon's Brigade, 
brigadier-general john nixon. '/'..- 

Brigade-Major, Daniel Box. 

Colonel Edward Hand, Pennsylvania 288 

" James Mitchell Varnum, Rhode Island 391 

" Daniel Hitchcock, " 368 

" Late Nixon's, Massachusetts 419 

" William Prescott, " 399 

" Moses Little, " 453 

Heard's Brigade. 

brigadier-general nathaniel heard. 

Brigade-Major, Peter Cordon. 

Colonel David Forman, New Jersey 372 

" Phillip Johnston, " 235 

" Ephraim Martin, " 382 

" Silas Newcomb, " 336 

Phillip Van Cortlandt, " 269 

- ■ :■,- -. 

■*Hjr . — . •• ■ -,— , 

the two a km iks. 131 

Connecticut Militia. 

hrigadier-general oliver wolcott. 

Colonel Thompson, Connecticut 350 

11 Hinmnn, " " 

" Pcttibonc, " " 

" Cooke, " 

Talcott, " " 

" Chapman, " " 

Baldwin, " " 

Lieutenant-Colonel Mead, " " 

" " Lewis, " " 

" Pitkin, " " 

Major Strong, " " 

" Newberry, " " 

Long Island Militia, 
brigadier-general nathaniel woodhull.' 

Brigade-Major, Jonathan Lawrence. 

Colonel Josiah Smith, Long Island 250 

" Jeronimus Remsen, " 200 

Colonel Henry Knox, Massachusetts 406 

As appears from a document among the papers of Gen- 
eral Knox, the encampments and posts of these brigades, 
before the advance of the enemy, were fixed as follows : 
Scott's, in the city ; Wadsworth's, along the East River. 

1 These regiments were nominally under General Woodhull, but actually 
under Greene and Sullivan. At the lime of the battle of the 27th both 
were doing duty with Nixon's brigade. (Sullivan's orders, August 251I1. 
Document 2.) Their strength can only be estimated, but it is probably cor- 
rect to say that together they were less than five hundred strong. 


132 CAMPAIGN OF 1776. 

in the city ; Parsons', from the ship-yards on the East 
River to Jones' Hill, and including one of the redoubts to 
the west of it ; Stirling's and McDougall's, still further 
west as a reserve near Bayard's Hill; Fellows', on the 
Hudson, from Greenwich down to the " Glass House," 
about half-way to Canal Street ; and James Clinton's, 
from that point down to the " Furnace," opposite the 
Grenadier Battery. These brigades, forming Putnam's, 
Spencer's, and Sullivan's divisions, with the Connecticut 
militia, were retained within the city and its immediate 
vicinity. Of Heath's division, Mifflin's brigade was 
posted at Fort Washington, at the upper end of the isl- 
and, and George Clinton's at King's Bridge. Greene's 
division — Nixon's and Heard's brigades — with the ex- 
ception of Prescott's regiment and Nixon's, now under his 
brother, Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Nixon, which were 
on Governor's Island, occupied the Long Island front. 1 

A far more perfect and formidable army was that 
which lay encamped on Statcn Island, seven miles down 
the bay. It was the best officered, disciplined, and equip- 
ped that Great Britain could then have mustered for 
any service. The fact that she found it difficult to raise 
new troops to conquer America only made it necessary to 
send forward all her available old soldiers. The greater 
part of Howe's army, accordingly, consisted Of experi- 
enced regulars. He had with him twenty-seven regiments 
of the line, four battalions of light infantry and four of 
grenadiers, two battalions of the king's guards, three 
brigades of artillery, and a regiment of light dragoons, 
numbering in the aggregate about twenty-three thousand 
officers and men. The six thousand or more that came 

1 Sec Appendix to Drake's Life of Gonial Knox. 


from Halifax were the Boston " veterans. " These had 
been joined by regiments from the West Indies ; and 
among the reinforcements from Britain were troops that 
had garrisoned Gibraltar and posts in Ireland and Eng- 
land, with men from Scotland who had won a name in the 
Seven Years' War.' Howe's generals were men who 
showed their fitness to command by their subsequent con- 
duct during the Avar. Next to the commander-in-chief 
ranked Lieutenant-Gcncrals Clinton, Percy, and Corn-' 
wallis; Major-Generals Mathews, Robertson, Pigot, 
Grant, Jones, Vaughan, and Agncw ; and Brigadier- 
Generals Leslie, Cleveland, Smith, and Erskinc. 

The Hessians or " foreigners" formed more than one 
fourth of the enemy's strength. They numbered eight 
thousand officers and men, which, added to the distinc- 
tively British force, raised Howe's total to over thirty- 
one thousand. His total of effectives on the 27th of 
August was something more than twenty-four thousand.' 

'The " Highlander" regiments were the Forty-second and Seventy-first. 
In Stewart's Highlanders, vol. i., p. 354, as quoted in the Memoir of General 
Graham, the following passage appears: "On the 10th April, 1776, the 
Forty-second Regiment being reviewed by Sir Adolphus Oughton, was re- 
ported complete, and so unexceptionable that none were rejected. Hos- 
tilities having commenced in America, every exertion was made to teach 
the recruits the use of the firelock, for which purpose they were drilled 
even by candle-light. New arms and accoutrements were supplied to the 
men ; and the colonel of the regiment, at his own expense, supplied broad- 
swords and pistols, . .... . . The pistols were of the old Highland fash- 
ion, with iron stocks. These being considered unnecessary except in the 
field, were not intended, like the swords, to be worn by the men in quarters. 
When the regiment took the field on Statcn and Long Island, it was said that 
the broadswords retarded the men by getting entangled in the brushwood and 
they were therefore taken from them and sent on board the transports." 

5 General Clinton, quoting from Howe's returns on this date, says he had 
" 24,464 effectives fit for duty"; a total of 26,980, officers not included, who, 
when added, amount to 31,625 men." Sec General Carrington's Battles 0/ 
the Revolution, p. 199. To the British force should be added two or three 
companies of New York loyalists. 



Drawn up in complete array upon the field this army 
would have confronted Washington's in the following 
order :' 





2" Bat" Lt. Infty. 3 d Brigade" Lt. Infty. i rt Bat" Lt. Infty. 

Major of Brigade Lewis. 


2 nd Brig, of Art'lly. 3 d Brigade of Art. i" Brigade of Art. 

Major of Brigade Farrington. 

1 The list that follows is copied from what appears to have been the roster- 
book of Adjutant Gilfillan of the Fifty-fifth Regiment. The book was cap- 
tured by Captain Nathaniel Fitz Randolph, of New Jersey (see Document 
$(>), and is now in the possession of Captain John C. Kinney, of Hartford, a 
Kn-at-grandson of the latter. There is no date attached to the " Order of 
Battle," but from the few dates that follow it was probably made out in the 
first part of August, 1776. The list gives the full British strength, and is 
interesting as naming the majors of brigade, represented by the abbreviation 
M. B. 

'•' An error, evidently, for Battalion. 


- | 


* *- 




03 co 




CO go' 



"1 M 


2 S. 

< re 

3 • 














a jj? 




M M 








3 (A 





O * 


2 w 

a a 





>— N 




. K DO 



3 C 


n O 

Vi- " 









to* t> 


r" e 


P 3 60 



s- P> 


3 o. 

-• re 




CO S- 

^ CO 

l-» "1 

2. w 


re D- 

3 re 

N ' 





















Cours de Reserve. 


Major Genii Vaughan. 

2 B.Grcnd rs 4 th B. Grend" 3 Batt. Grend™ i 8t Battln Grend" 
42 Regmt. .- 33 d Regt. 

Hessian Division.' 

Mirbach's Brigade. 

Kniphauscn. Rail. Lossberg. 

Stirn's Brigade. 

Donop. Mirbach. Hereditary Prince. 

Donop's Brigade. 

Block. Minegcrode. Lisingen. 


1 The arrangement of the Hessian troops, as here given, is compiled from 
Von Elking's work, Baurmeistcr's Narrative, and the Hessian map in vol. 
ii. of the Long Island Historical Society's Memoirs. 

the two armies. 1 37 

Lossberg's Brigade. 

Von Ditfurth. Von Trumbach. 

When and where, now, will these two armies meet ? 
Or rather, the question was narrowed down to this : 
When and where will the British attack? With Wash- 
ington there was no choice left but to maintain a strictly 
defensive attitude. The command which the enemy 
had of the waters was alone sufficient to make their 
encampment on Staten Island perfectly secure. As to 
assuming the offensive, Washington wrote to his brother, 
John Augustine, on July 22d : " Our situation at pres- 
ent, both in regard to men and other matters, is such as 
not to make' it adyisable to attempt any thing against 
them, surrounded as they are by water and covered with 
ships, lest a miscarriage should be productive of unhappy 
and fatal consequences. It is provoking, nevertheless, to 
have them so near, without being able to give them any 
disturbance. ' ' Earlier in the season an expedition had been 
organized under Mercer, in which Knowlton was to take 
an active part, to attack the enemy's outposts on Staten 
Island from the Jersey shore, but the weather twice inter- 
fered with the plan. All that the Americans hoped to 
do was to hold their own at and around New York. 
Washington tells us that he fully expected to be able to 
defend the city.' Even the passage of the Rose and 
Phoenix did not shake his faith. None of his letters writ- 
ten during the summer disclose any such misgivings as 

1 "Till of late I had no doubt in my own mind of defending this place." 
— Washington to Congress, September 2d, 1776. 

138 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

Lee expressed, respecting the possibility of maintaining 
this base, and in attempting to hold it he followed out 
his own best military judgment. 

What occasioned the principal anxiety in the mind of 
the commander-in-chief was the number of points at 
which the British could make an attack and their dis- 
tance from one another. They could advance into New 
Jersey from Staten Island ; they could make a direct 
attack upon the city with their fleet, while the transports 
sailed up the Hudson and the troops effected a landing 
in his rear ; they could cross to Long Island and fall upon 
Greene in force ; or they could make landings at different 
points as feints, and then concentrate more rapidly than 
Washington, as their water carriage would enable them 
to do, and strike where he was weakest. 1 

The summer and the campaign season were passing, 
and still the uncertainty was protracted — when and 
where will the enemy attack ? 

'" Before the landing of the enemy in Long Island, the point of attack 
could not be known, nor any satisfactory judgment formed of their inten- 
tions. It might be on Long Island, on Bergen, or directly on the city." — 
Washington to Congress, September 9th, 1776. 




At length, upon the twenty-second of August, after 
days of expectation and suspense in the American camp, 
the British moved forward. Thoroughly informed of 
Washington's position, the strength of his army, and the 
condition of his lines at every point, 1 Lord Howe matur- 
ed his plan of action deliberately, and decided to advance 
by way of Long Island. An attack from this quarter 
promised the speediest success and at the least cost, for, 
should he be able to force the defences of Brooklyn, 
New York would be at his mercy ; or, failing in this, 
he could threaten Washington's flank from Hell Gate or 
beyond, where part of the fleet had been sent through 
the Sound, and by a push into Westchester County com- 
pel the evacuation of the city. Preparations were accord- 
ingly made to transport the troops lrom Statcn Island 

1 The Tories gave Howe all the information he needed. One Gilbert Forbes 
testified at the " Hickcy Plot" examination that a Sergeant Graham, for- 
merly of the Royal Artillery, had told him that he (the sergeant), at the request 
of Governor Tryon, had surveyed the works around the' city and on Long 
Island, and had concerted a plan of attack, which he gave to the governor 
{Force, 4th Scries, vol. vi., p. 1178). On his arrival at Statcn Island, Howe 
wrote to Gcrmainc, July 7th : " I met with Governor Tryon, on board of ship 
at the Hook, and many gentlemen, fast friends to government, attending 
him, from whom I have had the fullest information of the state of the rebels, 
who arc numerous, and very advantageously posted, with strong i n trench - 
ments, both upon Long Island and that of New York, with more than one 
hundred pieces of cannon for the defence of the town towards the sea," etc. 
— Force, 5th Series, vol. i., p. 105. 

140 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

across to the Long Island coast and debark them at 
Gravescnd Bay, a mile to the eastward of the Narrows. 
A thunder-storm of great violence on the previous even- 
ing, which had fallen Avith fatal effect on more than one of 
Washington's soldiers, threatened to delay the move- 
ment, but a still atmosphere followed, and the morning 
of the 22d broke favorably. 1 At dawn the three fri- 
gates Phoenix, Greyhound and Rose, with the bomb- 
ketches Thunder and Carcass, took their stations close 
into the Bay as covering ships for the landing, while 
Sir George Collier placed the Rainbow within the 
Narrows, opposite De Nysc's Ferry, now Fort Hamilton, 
to silence a battery supposed to be at that point. Upon 
the Staten Island shore fifteen thousand British and Hes- 
sian troops, fully equipped, and forty pieces of artillery 
had been drawn up during the day and evening before, 
and a part of them embarked upon transports lying near 
at anchor. At the beach were moored seventy-five flat- 
boats, eleven battcaux, and two galleys, built expressly 
for the present service, and manned by sailors from the 
ships of war, which, with the rest of the naval armament, 
were placed under the direction of Commodore Hotham. 
As soon as the covering frigates were in position, the 
brigade of light infantry and the reserves of grenadiers 
and foot, forming an advance corps four thousand strong 
and headed by Sir Henry Clinton and Lord Cornwallis, 
entered the flotilla and were rowed in ten divisions to the 
Gravescnd landing, where they formed upon the plain 

1 This storm, which is mentioned by Colonel Douglas, Captain Hale, Chap- 
lain Benedict, and others, hung over the city from seven to ten in the even- 
ing, and is described by Pastor Shcwkirk as being more terrible than that 
which " struck into Trinity Church" twenty years before. Captain Van 
Wyck and two lieutenants of McDougall's regiment and a Connecticut soldier 
were killed by the lightning. 


without opposition. 1 Then followed the remaining troops 
from the transports, and before noon the fifteen thou- 
sand, with guns and baggage, had been safely transferred 
to Long Island. All who witnessed this naval spectacle 
that morning were the enemy themselves, a few Dutch 
farmers in the vicinity, and the pickets of Hand's riflemen, 
who at once reported the movement at camp. 

The landing successfully effected, Cornwallis was im- 
mediately detached with the reserves, Donop's corps of 
chasseurs and grenadiers, and six ficld-picccs, to occupy 
the village of Flatbush, but with orders not to attempt the 
" pass" beyond, if he found it held by the rebels ; and the 
main force encamped nearer the coast, from the Narrows 
toFlatlands. As Cornwallis advanced, Colonel Hand and 
his two hundred riflemen hurried down from their out- 
post camp above Utrecht, and, keeping close to the en- 
emy's front, marched part of the way " alongside of them, 
in the edge of the woods," but avoided an open fight in 
the field with superior numbers." Captain Hamilton and 

1 The landing-place was at the present village of Bath. No opposition by 
the Americans would have availed and none was attempted. Washington 
wrote to Hancock, August 20th : " Nor will it be possible to prevent their 
landing on the island, as its great extent affords a variety of places favorable for 
that purpose, and the whole of our works on it arc at the end opposite to the 
city. However, we shall attempt to harass them as much as possible, which 
will be all that we can do." To the same effect Colonel Reed's letter of Au- 
gust 23d : " As there were so many landing-places, and the people of the island 
generally so treacherous, we never expected to prevent the landing." General 
Parsons says {Document 5) : "The landing of the troops could not be pre- 
vented at the distance of six or seven miles from our lines, in a plain under 
the cannon of the ships, just within the shore." An American battery had 
gone down to Dc Nysc's, earlier in the summer, to annoy the Asia, but there 
was none there at this date. The particulars of the debarkation and of sub- 
sequent movements of the enemy appear in the reports and letters of the two 
Howes and Sir George Collier. (Force, 5th Scries, vol. i., pp. 1255 — 6 ; 
and Naval Chronicle, 184 1.) 

5 " On the morning of the 22d 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 

142 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

twenty men of the battalion fell back on the road in ad- 
vance, burning grain and stacks of hay, and killing cattle, 
which, says [Lieutenant-Colonel Chambers, he did " very 
cleverly." Among the inhabitants along the coast, con- 
fusion, excitement, and distress prevailed, 1 and many 
moved off their goods in great haste to find refuge in the 
American lines or farther east on the island ; while others 
remained to welcome the enemy, for whose success they 
had been secretly praying from the outset. 

The section of Long Island which the enemy now occu- 
pied was a broad low plain, stretching northward from 
the coast from four to six miles, and eastward a still 
further distance. Scattered over its level surface were 
four villages, surrounded with farms. Nearest to the 
Narrows, and nearly a mile from the coast, stood New 
Utrecht ; another mHe south-cast of this was Gravesend ; 
north-east from Gravesend, nearly three miles, the road 
led through Flatlands, and directly north from Flatlands, 
and about half-way to Brooklyn Church, lay Flatbush. 
Between this plain and the Brooklyn lines ran a ridge of 
hills, which extended from New York Bay midway 
through the island to its eastern extremity. The ridge 
varied in height from one hundred to one hundred and fifty 
feet above the sea, and from the plain it rose somewhat 
abruptly from forty to eighty feet, but fell off more grad- 
ually in its descent on the other side. Its entire surface 
• was covered with a dense growth of woods and thickets, 

number, to New 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." — Lieutenant-Colonel 
Chambers, of Hand's riflemen, to his Wife, September 3d, 1776. Chambcrs- 
burg in the Colony and the Revolution. 
1 Strong ' s History of Flatbush. 


and to an enemy advancing from below it presented a 
continuous barrier, a huge natural abattis, impassable to 
artillery, where with proportionate numbers a successful 
defence could be sustained. 

The roads across the ridge passed through its natural 
depressions, of which there were four within a distance 
of six miles from the harbor. The main highway, or 
Jamaica Road — that which led up from Brooklyn Ferry — 
after passing through Bedford, kept on still north of the 
hills, and crossed them at the " Jamaica Pass," about 
four miles from the fortified line. From this branched 
three roads leading to the villages in the plain. The most 
direct was that to Flatbush, which cut through the ridge 
a mile and a half from the works. Three quarters of a 
mile to the left, towards the Jamaica Pass, a road from 
Bedford led also to Flatbush ; and near the coast ran the 
Gowanus Road to the Narrows. Where the Red Lion ' 
Tavern stood on this rc^f, about three miles from Brook- 
lyn Church, a narrow lane, known as the Martcnse 
Lane, now marking the southern boundary of Greenwood 
Cemetery, diverged to the left through a hollow in the 
ridge and connected with roads on the plain. To clearly 
understand succeeding movements on Long Island, it is 
necessary to have in mind the relative situation of these 
several routes and passes. 

When word of the enemy's landing reached Sullivan 
and Washington the troops were immediately put under 
arms. The commander-in-chief had already been pre- 
pared for the intelligence by a dispatch from Governor 
Livingston, of New Jersey, the night before, to the effect 
that he had certain information from the British camp 
that they were then embarking troops and would move to 


I44 CAMPAIGN OF 1776. 

the attack on the following day. 1 As the report came in 
that the enemy intended to march at once upon Sullivan, 
Washington promptly sent him a reinforcement of six 
resriments, which included Miles' and Atlee's from Stir- 
line's brigade, Chester's and Silliman's from Wads- 
worth's, and probably Lasher's and Drake's from Scott's, 
numbering together some eighteen hundred men. They 
crossed with light spirits, and were marched to alarm- 
posts. Miles' two battalions went on to the Bedford 
Pass ; Silliman was ordered down into " a woody hill 
near Red Hook, to prevent any more troops from land- 
ing thereabout."' Hand's riflemen, supported by one 

1 Livingston sent a spy to Staten Island on the night of the 20th, who 
brought word that the British were embarking, and would attack on Long 
Island and up the North River. Washington received the information during 
the storm on the following evening, and immediately sent word to Heath at 
King's Bridge that the enemy were upon " the point of striking the long- 
expected stroke." The next morning, the 22d, he wrote again instructing 
Heath to pick out " eight hundred or a thousand, light, active men, and good 
marksmen," ready to move rapidly wherever they were most needed ; and he 
promised to send him some artillery, " if," he continues, " we have not other 
employment upon hand, which General Putnam, who is this instant come 
in, seems to think we assuredly shall, this day, as there is a considerable em- 
barkation on board of the enemy's boats." (Afass. Hist, Soc. Coll., volume 
for 1878. The Heath correspondence.) On the same date Washington wrote 
to Hancock : " The falling down of several ships yesterday evening to the 
Narrows, crowded with men, those succeeded by many more this morning, 
and a great number of boats parading around them, as I was just now in- 
formed, with troops, are all circumstances indicating an attack, and it is not 
improbable it will be made to-day. It could not have happened last night, 
by reason of a most violent gust." {Force, 5th Scries, vol. i., p. mo). On 
the 21st, Colonel Hand at the Narrows reported three times to General Nixon 
that the British transports were filling with men and moving down, and the 
reports were sent to Washington. These facts show how closely the enemy 
were watched. The embarkation was known at head-quarters early on the 
morning of the 22d, before the landing was made on Long Island. 

2 Washington wrote to Heath the next day : " Our first accounts were that 
they intended by a forced march to surprise General Sullivan's lines, "who com- 
mands during the illness of General Greene ; whereupon I immediately rein- 
forced that post with six regiments." Miles, Silliman, and Chester's adju- 
tant, 1 allmadge, state that their regiments were among the first to cross after 


of the Eastern regiments, watched and annoyed the Hes- 
sians under Donop at Flatbush, and detachments were 
sent to guard the lower roads near the Red Lion. With- 
in the Brooklyn lines the troops stood to their alarm- 
posts. Colonel Little, expecting that " morning would 
bring us to battle," ami remembering his promise to 
defend Fort Greene to the last extremity, enclosed his 
will to his son, and directed him in a certain event to take 
proper charge at home. 

The morning of the 23d, however, brought no battle, 
nor did the enemy attempt any advance for three days. 
Washington made Sullivan an early visit, saw the situa- 
tion there for himself, and during the day issued another 
of his fervent orders to the army. He formally an- 
nounced the landing of the British, and again reminded 
his troops that the mpment was approaching on which 
their honor and success .and the safety of the country 
depended. " Remember, officers and soldiers," he said, 
" that you are freemen, fighting for the blessings of lib- 
erty ; that slavery will be your portion, and that of your 
posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves like men. Re- 
member 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 other 
places what a few brave men, contending in their own land 
and in the best of causes, can do against base hirelings 
and mercenaries." He urged them, too, to be cool, but 
determined ; not to fire at a distance, but wait for the word 
from their officers ; and gave express orders that if any 

the enemy landed. Sullivan's orders of the 25th and other records seem to 
indicate that Alice's, Lasher's, and Drake's were the other three battalions 
sent over at the same time. 

'See Sullivan's orders, Silliman's letters, Miles' Journal (Part I L), and 
Chambers' letter. 

146 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

man attempted to skulk, lie down, or retreat, he must be 
instantly shot down as an example. Those who should 
distinguish themselves for gallantry and good conduct 
were assured that they might depend upon being honor- 
ably noticed and suitably rewarded. Strict orders as to 
other matters were also issued. The commissary-gene- 
ral was to have Ave days' baked bread on hand for distri- 
bution ; the men were to have constantly ready with them 
two days' hard bread and pork, and the officers were to 
sec not only that they had it, but kept it. The officers of 
the newly arrived militiamen were instructed also to sec 
that the cartridges fitted their soldiers' muskets, and that 
each man had twenty-four rounds and two flints. 

On the Long Island front, Sullivan was alert, and kept 
his division in readiness for the attack, which was now 
hourly expected. He ordered his command that after- 
noon, the 23d, to prepare two days' provisions and turn 
out the next morning at three o'clock. For the night, he 
assigned Hitchcock's and Little's regiments to guard the 
Flatbush Pass, Johnston's and Martin's to the coast road, 
and Rcmscn's Long Island militia to support Miles on the 
Bedford Road. They were all to be at their posts at six 
o'clock, and the regiments they relieved were to return to 
their encampments and, like the rest, "get two days' 
provisions dressed, and be ready for action." 

Meanwhile some brisk skirmishing occurred in front of 
Flatbush. In the afternoon of this day, the enemy, as 
Sullivan reported, formed, and attempted to pass the road 
bv Bedford, but meeting a warm reception from the rifle- 
men, some " musketry" sent to their support, and two or 
three of our field pieces, they fell back. " Our men," 
wrote Sullivan to Washington, " followed them to the 
house of Judge LefTerts (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 produced 
three officers' hangers, a carbine, and one dead body, 
with a considerable sum of money in pocket. I have or- 
dered a party out for prisoners to-night."' The enemy 
returned in force, and the American skirmishers, having 
but two wounded, withdrew to the hills ; but their con- 
duct in the affair was so highly appreciated by Sullivan, 
that he issued a congratulatory order in the following 
terms : 

" The general returns his thanks to the brave officers 
and soldiers who, with so much spirit and intrepidity, re- 
pulsed the enemy and defeated their designs of taking 
possession of the woods near our lines. He is now con- 
vinced that the troops he has the honor to command will 
not, in Doint of bravery, yield to any troops in the uni- 
verse. ^Jt he cheerfulness with which they do their duty, 
and the patience with which they undergo fatigue, evince 
exalted sentiments of freedom and love of country, and 
gives him most satisfactory evidence that when called 
upon they will prove themselves worthy of that freedom 
for which they arc now contending." ' 

1 Referring evidently to this skirmish, Lieutenant-Colonel Chambers says : 
" Strong guards were maintained nil day on the flanks of the cncmy, r 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 re- 
treat out of Flatbush. Our people went into the town and brought the goods 
out of the burning houses. The enemy liked to have lost their field-pieces. 
Captain Steel acted bravely. We would certainly have had the cannon had 
it not been for some foolish person calling retreat. The main body of the 
foe returned to town, and when our lads [came back they told of their ex- 

2 Little's Order Book, Document 2. But it seems that Rcmsen's Long 
Island militiamen were seized by a panic, cither during this skirmish or at a 
later hour, on the Bedford Road, and ran from their posts. Sullivan rebuked 

I48 CAMPAIGN OF 1//6. 

On the 24th. Washington was still in doubt as to the in- 
tentions of the enemy. Reports represented their num- 
bers on Long Island at not more than eight thousand, 
whereas they were double this estimate ; and it was sus- 
pected at head-quarters that their landing might only be 
a feint to draw off our troops to that side, while the real 
attack should be made on New York. But the impru- 
dence of running any risks on the Brooklyn side was ob- 
vious, and Washington sent over a further reinforcement 
of four regiments, which appear to have been Wyllys's, 
Huntington's, and Tyler's of Parsons' brigade (his entire 
command was there on the next day) together with the 
Pennsylvania detachments under Lieutenant-Colonel Lutz 
and Major Hay. On this date Brigadier-General Lord 
Stirling crossed over, where more than half his brigade 
had preceded him ; and Brigadier-General John Nixon, 
whose name now first appears in connection with the 
operations on Long Island, was detailed as field officer of 
the day, with orders to take command of the outer line 
and post his men "in the edge of the woods next the 
enemy." ' 

* But the principal event of the 24th was the change made 
in the chief command on Long Island. Sullivan was 
superseded by Putnam. There were now on that side 
the whole of Nixon's and Heard's brigades (the two regi- 
ments on Governor's Island excepted), the larger part of 
Stirling's and Parson's, and half of Scott's and Wads- 
worth's. As this roster included one third of the army's 
effective force, the command could properly be assigned 

litem sharply in his orders of the 24th (Documcnl 2), and confined them there- 
after to " fatigue" duty. This proved to be only the first of several militia 
panics experienced in this campaign. 

1 Sullivan's Orders, August 24th. Document 2. 



to Putnam as the senior major-general present ; but it 
does not appear that the question of his rank entered into 
the reasons for the change. In a letter to Governor Liv- 
ingston from Colonel Reed, the adjutant-general, dated 
August 30th, 1776, the statement is made that Washing- 
ton, " finding a great force going to Long Island, sent over 
Putnam ;" leaving the inference to be drawn that, apart 
from his rank, Putnam was considered the proper officer, 
or an officer competent, to command such a force. Reed 
states further that some movements had been made on 
Long Island of which the commander-in-chief did not 
entirely approve, and this also called for a change. Sul- 
livan, too, was wholly unacquainted with the ground ; 
although, as to this, Putnam's knowledge of it was 
not extensive, as he had been over it only "occasion- 
ally." That Sullivan was a brave, zealous, and active 
officer, his military career abundantly proves. Appointed 
a brigadier-general from New Hampshire, he commanded 
a brigade under Lee throughout the Boston siege, and 
had been sent, as already stated, in the spring of this 
year to help repair the misfortunes attending our force on 
the Canada border ; but success was not to be met with 
there, and Sullivan, finding Gates promoted to the chief 
command in that quarter, returned, after visiting Con- 
gress, to the New York army. Like most of our general 
officers at that date, he as yet lacked military experience, 
especially in an independent capacity, for which his 
ambition to succeed was not a sufficient equivalent. How 
far Putnam was more competent to assume the command 
on Long Island, is a point which the issue there, at least, 
did not determine. His record before this was all in his 
favor. A veteran of the old war, a man of known per- 
sonal courage, blunt, honest, practical, and devoted to the 

I$0 CAMPAIGN OK 1776. 

American cause, he had the confidence of at least the 
older part of the army, with which he had been identified 
from the beginning of the struggle. As he had never 
been tried in a separate department, Washington could 
not say how he would manage it, but he could say, from 
his experience with him at Boston, that Putnam was "a 
most valuable man and fine executive' officer," ' and such 
he continued to prove himself through the present cam- 
paign, lie seconded Washington heartily and efficiently 
in all his plans and preparations, and when he was sent to 
Long Island the commander-in-chief had reason to feel 
that whatever directions he might give as to operations 
there, Putnam would follow them out to the letter. But 
if Putnam took the general command across the river, 
Sullivan continued in active subordinate control, as sec- 
ond in command." • 

"Washington to Congress, January 30th, 1776. 

2 In regard to the change in the corrfmand, the adjutant-general's state- 
ment in full is this : " On General Greene's being sick, Sullivan took the 
command, who was wholly unacquainted with the ground or country. Some 
movements being made which the general did not approve entirely, and find- 
ing a great force going to Long Island, he sent over Putnam, who had 
been over occasionally ; this gave some disgust, so that Putnam was directed 
to soothe and soften as much as possible." (SedgioicW s Lift of Livingston, 
p. 201.) What movements were referred to, unless it was the random firing 
of the skirmishers and the burning of houses at Flatbush by some of our men, or 
how Putnam was to reconcile Sullivan to the change, as he was directed (this 
evidently being the meaning of Reed's last phrase), docs not appear. From 
subsequent occurrences, the inference is justified that Putnam did not disturb 
Sullivan's arrangements, but left the disposition of the troops to him. What 
Sullivan himself says is given in a note further along in the chapter. That 
Putnam went over on the 24th, and in the forenoon, is evident from a letter 
from Reed to his wife of that date, in which he says : " While I am writing, 
there is a heavy firing and clouds of smoke rising from the wood [on Long 
Island]. General Putnam was made happy by obtaining leave to go over — 
the brave old man was quite miserable at being kept here." (Rted's Life of 
Reed.) This firing, as Washington wrote to Schuyler on the same date, oc- 
curred in the morning. Putnam had been engaged during the summer, prin- 
cipally, in looking after the defences in the city and the river obstructions. 



On th^ 25th, Putnam received written instructions from 
Washington. He was directed to form a proper line of 
defence around his encampment and works on the most 
advantageous ground ; to have a brigadier of the day 
constantly upon the lines that he might be on the spot to 
command ; to have field-officers go the rounds and report 
the situation of the guards ; to have the guards particu- 
larly instructed in their duty ; and to compel all the men 
on duty to remain at their camps or quarters and be ready 
to turn out at a moment's warning. The wood next to 
Red Hook bordering Gowanus Creek was to be well at- 
tended to, and the woods elsewhere secured by abattis, 
if necessary, to make the enemy's progress as difficult as 
possible. The militia, or troops which were least disci- 
plined and had seen the least service, were to man the in- 
terior lines, while the best men were " at all hazards" to 
prevent the enemy's passing the woods and approaching 
the works. He disapproved also of the unmeaning picket 
firing and the burning of houses, and warned the general 
finally that when the attack came it was certain to be 
" sudden and violent." ' 

For brigadier for the day, General Lord Stirling was 
assigned to duty on this date." 

He had charge, also, of the water transportation, boats, pcttiagucrs, etc. His 
division was in the city or close to it. Had the enemy, accordingly, attacked 
the city directly, it would have fallen largely to Putnam to conduct the de- 
fence ; and this is doubtless the reason why, as Reed says, he was " kept 
here." Hut as it now seemed certain that the British were concentrating on 
Long Island, he evidently wished to be with the troops there, where that 
morning there was " a heavy firing" going on, and obtained leave to cross. 
Finding a change desirable, Washington, probably at the same time, gave 
Putnam the command and " sent" him over. 

1 Mr. Davis, in his Life of Aaron Purr, who was Putnam's aid at this time, 
states that after crossing to Long Island and making the round of the out- 
posts, he (Hurr) urfjed his general to beat up the enemy's camp, but that Put- 
nam declined, on the ground that his orders required him to remain strictly on 
the defensive. 

2 Sullivan's Orders, August 25th. Document 2. 



1 5 J CAMPAIGN OF 1 7/6. 

In the skirmishing that continued from the 24th to the 
26th the Americans showed skill and bravery, although 
at times indulging in desultory firing. The riflemen, sup- 
ported by field-pieces, made occasioned dashes upon the 
enemy and picked off their men with almost no loss to 
themselves. Among the troops on picket near Flatbush, 
on the 25th, were Colonel Silliman and his Connecticut 
battalion ; and from the colonel, who wrote from there, 
on a drum-head,' to his wife, we get a glimpse of the situ- 
ation at that point during his tour of duty. " I am now 
posted," he says, " within about half a mile from the 
Regulars with my Regt. under the covert of a woody hill 
to stop their passage into the country. There are a num- 
ber of Regts. posted all around the town within about 
the same distance and for the same purpose. The Regu- 
lars keep up an almost constant fire from their Cannon 
and Mortars at some or other of us, but neither shott 
nor shell has come near my Regt. as yet and they are at 
too great a distance to fire muskets at. I have a scout- 
ing party going out now to see if they can't pick up some 
or get something from them. ." . . They have 
wounded in all of our men in 3 days skirmish, about 8 or 
9, one or two mortally, which is not half the number that 
we have killed for them besides wounded." On the 26th 
a considerable party with artillery attacked the Hessians 
and drove them in, killing several men belonging to the 
Von Lossbcrg regiment, which later in the day advanced 
in turn and compelled our skirmishers to fall back. In 
this affair Colonel Ephraim [Martin, of New Jersey, was 
severely wounded. 

On the morning of the 26th, Washington again 
crossed to Long Island, where he remained until night. 
The records arc quite silent as to how he passed the 


most of his time, but judging from his letter to Con- 
{ gress of this date, in which he expressed his belief that the 
enemy had landed nearly all their force on that side, and 
that it was there they would make their " grand push," it 
was doubtless a busy, watchful, and anxious day with him. 
To suppose that he did not inform himself of all the pre- 
parations made to meet the enemy, that he did not know 
what number of men were posted on the hills and at what 
points, that he did not study the several modes and direc- 
tions of attack possible for the enemy to adopt, and that 
he did not himself give personal directions, would be to 
charge that at the most important moment of the cam- 
paign' he failed to exercise that care and attention to de- 
tail which he exercised on so many occasions both before 
and after. Indeed, although Putnam 'and Sullivan were" 
in immediate command on Long Island, Washington 
never shifted the final responsibility from his own shoul- 
ders, and as a matter of fact was probably as well ac- 
quainted with the ground as cither of these generals. 
Towards evening, in company with Putnam, Sullivan, and 
other officers, he rode down to the outposts near Flat- 
bush and examined the position of the enemy. How long 
he remained, or what information he was able to gather, 
does not appear ; but both the other generals, Putnam 
and Sullivan, made a detour of the pickets cither at this 
time or at an earlier hour in the day, visited Miles and 
Brodhead on the extreme left, took their opinion as to 
the movements and intentions of the British, so far as one 
could be formed by them, and then rode off to the right 
" to reconnoitre the enemies lines." ' 

'Several writers, Mr. Sparks among them, make the statement that neither 
Washington nor Putnam went outside of the Brooklyn lines. It would he 
impossible to credit this without absolute proof of the fact. Washington al- 
ways reconnoitred the position of the enemy whenever they were near each 



154 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

On this day also, the 26th, additional regiments were 
sent over. Two of these were the remainder of Stirling's 
brigade — Haslet's Delaware battalion, the largest in the 
arm)-, as we have seen, and Smallwood's Mary landers, 
one of the choicest and best equipped. Either on this or 
one of the two previous days, Lieutenant-Colonel Kach- 
lein's incomplete battalion of Pennsylvania riflemen, with 
two or three independent companies from Maryland, 
crossed ; and among the last to go over were one hundred 
picked men, the nucleus of the " Rangers," from Durkee's 
Connecticut Continentals at Bergen, with Lieutenant- 
Colonel Thomas Knowlton at their head. 1 These addi- 
tions raised the force on Long Island on the night of the 
26th to a total of about seven thousand men fit for duty.' 

other ; in the last scenes of the war at Yorktown he was among the first at 
the outposts examining the British works. Undoubtedly he rode out to the 
Flatbush Pass on the 26th, as stated by the writer of the letter to the South 
Carolina Gazette (Document 19), who says : " The evening preceding the ac- 
tion, General Washington, with a number of general officers, went down to 
view the motions of the enemy, who were encamped at Flatbush." A letter 
from a survivor of the Revolution, present on Long Island, published in a 
newspaper several years since, well authenticated, and preserved in one of 
Mr. Onderdonk's scrap-books in the Astor Library, New York, confirms this 
statement. The soldier recollects that he saw Washington and others look- 
ing at the enemy with their glasses. 

1 Statement of Colonel Thomas Grosvcnor to the late David P. Hall, Esq., 
of New York, who knew Grosvcnor well, and preserved many facts in writing 
in regard to his military career. Knowlton's captains were Grosvenor and 
Stephen Brown, of Pomfret, Conn. The detachment was on duty at the 
outposts on the night of the 26th. The soldier whose letter is referred to in 
the note preceding this was one of the " Rangers," and he states that their 
number was about one hundred. That Smallwood's and Haslet's regiments 
crossed on the 26th, we have from Smallwood himself. — Force, 5th Scries, 
vol. ii., p. ion. 

2 The regiments were Little's and Ward's, from Massachusetts ; Varnum's 
and Hitchcock's, from Rhode Island ; Huntington's, Wyllys's, Tyler's, Ches- 
ter's, Silliman's, and Gay's, and Knowlton's " Rangers," from Connecticut ; 
Lasher's and Drake's, from New York ; Smith's and Rcmscn's, from Long 
Island ; Martin's, Forman's, Johnston's, Ncwcomb's, and Cortland's, from 
New Jersey ; Hand's, Miles', Atlee's, Lutz's, Kachlein's, and Hay's, detach- 
ment from Pennsylvania ; Haslet's, from Delaware ; and Smallwood's, from 


Following in turn after Nixon and Stirling, Briga- 
dier-General Parsons was detailed as field officer of the 
day ' for the next twenty-four hours — the day of the 

At about the time that Washington started to return 
to his headquarters at New York, on this evening, Sir 
William Howe began to set his columns in motion for the 
attack, and on the next morning, at the passes in the hills 
and along their inner slopes, was fought what is known in 
our Revolutionary history as the battle of Long Island. 

Fortunately, a point so essential to the comprehension 
of the progress of any engagement, the position of both 
armies on Long Island, just before the attack, is now 
known nearly to the last detail. The record here is clear 
and satisfactory. On the night of the 26th, the various 
regiments and detachments on guard at the American 
outposts numbered not far from twenty-eight hundred 
men. At the important Flatbush Pass, supporting the 
two or three gun battery there, and with strong pickets 
thrown out to the edge of the woods nearest the enemy, 
were posted Hitchcock's and Little's Continental regi- 
ments, and Johnston's New Jersey battalion, the two for- 
mer being commanded by their lieutenant-colonels, Cor- 
nell and Hcnshaw. To this point, also, Knowlton and 
his rangers appear to have been sent. The battery or 
redoubt here stood about where the Flatbush and narrow 

Maryland. Among olhcr artillery officers on that side were Captains Newell 
and Trcadwell, Captain-Lieutenants John Johnston and Bcnajah Carpenter ; 
Lieutenants Lillie and " Cadet" John Callendcr. This list is believed to in- 
clude all the battalions and detachments on Long Island at the time the 
British attacked. 

1 Parson's own statement, letter of October 5th : " On the day of the sur 
prise I was on duty." — Document 5. 


156 CAMPAIGN OF I/;6. 

Port Road united, and was apparently no more than a 
plain breastwork, with felled trees in front of it, thrown 
up across the road, and perhaps extending to the rising 
ground on the left. 1 At the coast road, around and be- 
yond the Red Lion, the guards consisted of Hand's rifle- 
men, half of Atlce's musketry, detachments of New 
York troops, and part of Lutz's Pennsylvanians under 
Major Burd. At the Bedford Pass, to the left of the Flat- 
bush Road, were stationed Colonel Samuel Wyllys's 
Connecticut Continentals, and Colonel Chester's regiment 
from the same State, under Lieutenant-Colonel Solomon 
Wills, of Tolland, who had seen service in the French war 
and at Havana. Still further to the left, Colonel Miles 
was now encamped a short distance beyond, in the wopds. 
Between these several passes, sentinels were stationed at 
intervals along the crest of the ridge, tp keep communica- 
tion open from one end of the line to the other. 3 

1 The site of this breastwork is now within the limits of Prospect Park, and 
it stood across what is known as " Battle Pass." Dr. Stiles in his History 
of Brooklyn, and Mr. Field in vol. ii. of the L. I. Hist. Society's Memoirs, 
put a well-constructed redoubt at this point on a hill-top to the left of the 
road. The account in the South Carolina Gazette says that the Flatbush 
Pass guards were posted " near a mile from the parting of the road [i.e., a 
mile from where the Flatbush Road branched from the Jamaica Road] where 
an abattis was formed across the road, and a breastwork thrown up and de- 
fended by two pieces of cannon." In the original sketch of the " engage- 
ment," made by John Ewing, who was Hand's brother-in-law, and with him 
on the spot, there is this reference : " F. Where a considerable Number of 
our people were stationed with several Field-pieces & Breast-works made 
with Trees felled across the Road to defend themselves when attacked." 
{Document 15.) Colonel Miles speaks of "a small redoubt in front of the 
village [Flatbush]" {Document 20.) The breastwork across the road was 
doubtless the principal defence here, and this was merely temporary. 

' The number of men at each of the three passes was about eight hundred, 
and on the left of these were Miles' two battalions, with perhaps five hundred 
men on duty. Sullivan's orders of August 25th give the detail which was to 
mount for picket on the following morning. This detail, therefore, was the 
one on duly on the night of the 26th. The order runs : " Fight hundred 
[men] properly officered to relieve the troops on Bedford Road to-morrow 


As far, then, to the left as Miles' position the hills were 
as well guarded as seemed possible with the limited force 
that could be spared, and at the passes themselves a stout 
resistance could have been offered. But it was still an 
attenuated line, more than four miles long, not parallel 
but oblique to the line of works at Brooklyn, and distant 
from it not less than one and a half, and at the farthest 
posts nearly three miles. Should the enemy pierce it at 
any one point, an immediate retreat would have been 
necessary from every other. The line could have been 
defended with confidence only on the supposition that the 
British would not venture to penetrate the thick woods, 
but advance along the roads through the passes. 

It will be noticed that in this disposition no provision 
was made for holding the fourth or Jamaica Pass far over 

morning, six field officers to attend with this party. The same number to re- 
lieve those on Bush [Flatbush] Road, and an equal number those stationed 
towards the Narrows. A picket of three hundred men under the command 
of a Field Officer, six Captains, twelve subalterns to be posted at the wood on 
the west side of the creek every night till further orders." (Sec also Docu- 
ments 5, 18, 19.) That Miles was on the extreme left, we well know ; that 
Wyllys was at the Bedford Pass, appears from both Miles' and Brodhcad's 
accounts ; that Chester's regiment was with him, appears from an extract 
quoted below — Chester's lieutenant-colonel being Solomon Wills ; that John- 
ston was at the Flatbush Pass, appears from the same and other authorities ; 
that Hcnshaw with Little's regiment was there, he himself states ; that Cor- 
nell was also there with Hitchcock's Rhode Islanders, appears from Captain 
Olncy's narrative as given in Mrs. Williams' Life of Olney, and from the 
lists of prisoners ; that Hand was at the lower road, until relieved, and Ma- 
jor Burd also, the major himself and Ewing's sketch both state ; the New 
York detachment there was probably a part of Lasher's regiment. The ex- 
tract referred to is from the Connecticut Courant, containing a letter from an 
officer engaged in the battle, which says : " The ni^'lit before August 27th, 
on the west road, were posted Colonel Hand's regiment, a detachment from 
Pennsylvania and New York ; next cast were posted Colonel Johnson, of 
Jersey, and Lieutenant-Colonel Henshaw, of Massachusetts ; next east were 
posted Colonel Wyllys and Lieutenant-Colonel Wills, of Connecticut. East 
of all these Colonel Miles, of Pennsylvania, was posted towards Jamaica, to 
watch the motion of the enemy and give intelligence." 



158 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

to the left.*' That the enemy could approach or make a 
diversion by that route, must have been well understood. 
But the posting- of a permanent guard there would ob- 
viously have been attended with hazard,' for the distance 
from the lines to this pass was four miles, and from the 
Bedford Pass two miles and a half through the woods. 
The position was thus extremely isolated, if the troops 
stationed there were expected to make the fortified line 
thcinpoint of retreat. None were stationed there during 
the five days since the British landed, and it nowhere ap- 
pears that any were intended or ordered to be so stationed 
by either Sullivan, Putnam, or the commander-in-chief. 
There was but one effective way of preventing surprise 
from that quarter, and that was to have squads of cavalry 
or troops constantly patrolling the road, who on the ap- 
pearance of an enemy could carry the word immediately 
and rapidly to the outposts and the camp. But in all 
Washington's army there was not a single company of 
horsemen, except the few Long Island troopers from 
Kings and Queens counties, and these were now en- 
gaged miles away in driving off stock out of reach of 
the enemy. The duty, accordingly, of looking after 
the open left flank fell, in part, upon Colonel Miles' two 
battalions. Lieutenant-Colonel Brodhcad leaves it on 
record that it was "hard duty." The regiment sent 
out scouting parties every day a distance of four or 
five miles ; one hundred men were mounted for guard 
daily, and thirty more with a lieutenant were kept on 
duty on the left, evidently in the direction of the Ja- 
maica Road. General Parsons rcportsthat " in the wood 
was placed Colonel Miles with his Battalion to watch th£\ 
motion of the Enemy on that part, with orders to keep a > 
parly constantly rcconnoitering to and across the Jamaica 


road." Should he discover the enemy at any time, it 
would have been expected of him to report the fact at 
once, oppose them vigorously, and retreat obstinately in 
order to give time for the other detachments to govern 
their movements accordingly. 

One other circumstance is to be noticed in regard to 
this Jamaica Pass. General Sullivan, subsequently refer-, 
ring to his connection with this battle, claimed that while ' 
he was in sole command he paid horsemen out of his own- 
purse to patrol the road, and that he "predicted the ap-' 
proach of the enemy by that road. Whatever inferences' 
may be drawn from this is not now to the point ; but we, 
have the fact that upon the evening of the 26th he exer- 
cised the same authority he had exercised in making other 
details, and sent out a special patrol of five commissioned 
officers to watch the Jamaica Pass. Three of these 
officers belonged to Colonel Lasher's New York City bat- 
talion — Adjutant Jcronimus Hoogland and Lieutenants 
Robert Troup and Edward Dunscomb ; and the other two 
were Lieutenant Gerrit Van Wagencn, a detached offi- 
cer of McDougall's old regiment, and a Lieutenant Gilli- 
land, who with Van Wagencn had crossed to Long Isl- 
and, as a volunteer. What part this patrol played in the 
incidents ol the following morning will presently appear.- * 

Thus on the night, of the 26th the American outposts 
stretched along the hills from the harbor to the Jamaica 
Pass, with unguarded intervals, a distance of more than 
six miles, while in the plains below lay the enemy, nearly 
ten times their number, ready to fall upon them with " a 
sudden and violent" shock. During the night one change 
was made in the picket guard. Colonel I land's riflemen, 
who had been on almost constant duty since the arrival of 
the British, were relieved at two o'clock in the morning 



l6o CAMPAIGN OF I776. 

by a detachment from the flying- camp, \vhich may have 
been a part of Hay's and Kachlcin's men, and returning 
to the lines, dropped down to sleep. 1 

If we leave our outposts now upon the hills and pass 
into the enemy's camp on the plain below, we shall find 
them on the eve of carrying out a great plan of attack. 
The four days since the 22d had been given to prepa- 
ration. On the 25th, Lieutcnant-General De Heister 
crossed from Staten Island with the two Hessian brig- 
ades of Von Stirn and Von Mirbach, leaving behind Von 
Lossbcrg's brigade, with some detachments and recruits, 
for the security of that island. With this addition, 
Howe's force on Long Island was swelled to a total of 
about twenty-one thousand officers and men, fit for duty 
and in the best condition for active service.' As dis- 
posed on the 26th, the army lay with the Hessians and 
the reserves under Cornwallis at Flatbush, the main body 
under Clinton and Percy massed at Flatlands, and 
Grant's division of the fourth and sixth brigades nearer 
the Narrows. 

Outnumbering the Americans three to one on the isl- 
and, Howe could lay his plans with assurance of almost 
absolute success. He proposed to advance upon the 
" rebels" in three columns. Grant was ordered to move 
up from the Narrows along the lower road, and Dc Heis- 
ter was to engage the attention of the Americans at the 

1 Hand's letter of August 27th : " I escaped my part by being relieved at 
2 o'clock this morning." (Document 12.) See John Ewing's letter and 
sketch. • 

3 Extract from a British officer's letter dated, Station Island, August 4, 
1776: .... " We arc now in expectation of attacking the fellows very 
soon, and if I may be allowed to judge, there never was an army in better 
spirits nor in better health, two very important things for our present busi- 
ness." — Hist. Mag., vol. v., p. 69. 



Flatbush Pass, while Clinton, Percy, and Cornwallis, with 
Howe himself, were to conduct the main body as a flank- 
ing force around the American left by way of the Jamaica 
Pass. A previous rcconnoissancc made by Clinton and 
Erskinc, and information gathered from the Tories, showed 
the practicability of this latter movement.' Grant and 
Dc Hcistcr were simply to make a show of an attack un- 
til they were assured by the sound of the firing that the 
flanking column had accomplished its design, when 
their demonstrations were to be turned into serious 
fighting. It was expected that by this plan the Ameri- 
cans stationed at the hills and passes would be entirely 
enveloped and thoroughly beaten if not captured in a 
body. With what nice precision this piece of strategy 
was executed, events will show. 

The first collision was ominous. Grant's advance- 
guard, marching up from the Narrows, struck the Ameri- 
can pickets in the vicinity of the Red Lion about two 
o'clock on the morning of the 27th. Whether because N 
they were all new troops, a part of whom had but just 
come upon the ground, and were alarmed by the night 
attack, or because they were surprised at their posts and 
put in danger of Capture, or whatever the reason, our 
picket guard at that point retreated before the enemy 
without checking their march. There was hardly more — 
than an exchange of fire with Major Burd's detachment, 
as the major himself writes, and in the confusion or dark- 

1 Stcdman, the British historian, who served as an officer under Howe, 
says : " Sir Henry Clinton and Sir William Erskinc, having reconnoitred 
the position of the enemy, saw that it would not be a difficult matter to turn 
their left flank, which would either oblige them to risk an engagement or to 
retire under manifest disadvantage. This intelligence being communicated to 
Sir William Howe, he consented to make the attempt." 

1 62 CAMPAIGN OF I//6. 

ness he, with many others probably, was taken prisoner. 
This was an unfortunate beginning, so far .as our men had 
abandoned one of the very posts which it had been pro- 
posed to hold ; but otherwise, there being other positions 
available, it was not necessarily fatal to the plan of de- 
fending the hills.' 

Word of the attack was quickly carried to General 
Parsons at his quarters and to General Putnam in camp. 
Parsons, as the brigadier on duty, rode at once to the 
spot, and found "by fair daylight" not only that the 
guards had " fled," but that the enemy were through the 
woods and already on this side of the main hills. Has- 
tily collecting some twenty of the scattered pickets, 
he made a show of resistance, which temporarily halted 
the enemy's column.' At the same time Putnam, whose 
instructions were to hold the outposts "at all hazards" 
with his best men, called up Stirling and directed him in 
person to take the two regiments nearest at hand and 
march down to meet the enemy.' Stirling promptly 

' Hardly more than a general statement can be made in regard to the attack 
on the pickets at the lower road. A part of them watched Martcnsc Lane, 
where, it would appear from Ewing's sketch, Hand's riflemen were posted 
before being relieved. Mujor Hurd's detachment, on the same authority, 
was probably on the direct road to the Narrows, both parties communicating 
with caqh other at the Red Lion Tavern, which stood near the fork of the 
roads. Grant's main column advanced by the Narrows Road, and possibly 
a party of the enemy came through' the Martcnsc Lane at about the same 
time. The skirmish Major Burd speaks of occurred in the vicinity of Thirty- 
eighth and Fortieth streets, on the Narrows Road, where former residents 
used to say the Americans had a picket guard stationed. When the enemy 
came up firing took place and some men were killed ; and this firing " was 
the first in the neighborhood." The pickets retreated, though General Par- 
sons was misinformed when he wrote that they did so " without firing a 
jjun." There was firing, but no stand made. 

' : /'arsons' Letters. Part II., Document 5. 

3 Stirling to Washington, Aug. 2qth : " About three o'clock on the morn- 
ing of the 27th I was called up, and informed by General Putnam that the 
enemy were advancing," etc. — Force, 5th Scries, vol. i., p. I2.J5. 


turned out Haslet's and Small wood's battalions and 
marched down. Colonel Atlee, who was also ordered 
forward, was on the road before him, with that part of 
his regiment, about one hundred and twenty men, not 
already on picket ; and Huntington's Connecticut Conti- 
nentals, under Lieutenant-Colonel Clark (Huntington 
himself being sick),' and Kachlcin's Pennsylvania rifle- 
men were soon after started in the same direction. 
Meanwhile, within the lines, the alarm-guns were fired, 
the whole camp roused, and the troops drawn up at the 
forts and breastworks. Hand's riflemen, who had but 
just lain down, "almost dead with fatigue," were turned 
out to take post in Fort Putnam and the redoubt on its 

When Stirling reached a point within half a mile of the 
Red Lion he found, as Parsons had before him, that the 
enemy had met with little opposition or delay at the out- 
posts on that road, and were now on the full march to- 
wards the Brooklyn lines. As there were still good po- 
sitions which he could occupy, he immediately made a 

1 "Col. Huntington is unwell, but I hope getting a little better. He has a 
slow fever. Mnj. Dyer Ih also unwell with a slow fever. Gcn'l Greene has 
been very sick but Is better. Gcnls. Putnam, Sullivan, Lord Sterling, Nixon, 
Parsons, & Heard arc on Long Island and a strong part of our army." — 
Letter from Col. Trumbull, Aug. 21th, 1776. J Jorum ait 7. 

•See references on Ewlng's sketch, Document 15: "II. Fort Putnam 
where part of Col". Hand's men commanded by Lieut C. [Lieutenant Col- 
onel] Chambers were detached from the Kcgt. to man the fort.— I. A small 
upper Fort where [I] was with the Col" the Day of the Engagement. " Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Chambers says : " We had just got to the fort, and I had 
only laid down, when the alarm-guns were fired. We were compelled to turn 
out to the lines, and as soon as it was light saw our men ami theirs en- 
gaged with field-pieces." Nearly all the accounts put Hand and his battalion 
at the Flatbush Pass during the battle on the 27th. This, as we now find, is 
an error. The battalion was worn out by its continued and effective skirmish- 
ing since the landing of the enemy, and required rest ; but of this it was to 
get very little, even within the lines. 

164 CAMPAIGN OF I//6. 

disposition of his force to >ffer resistance. The road here 
ran in a winding course along the line of the present Third 
Avenue, but a short distance from the bay, with here and 
there a dwelling which together constituted the Gowanus 
village or settlement. Where the present Twenty-third 
Street intersects the avenue there was a small bridge on 
the old road which crossed a ditch or creek setting up 
from the bay to a low and marshy piece of ground on the 
left, looking south ; and just the other side of the bridge, 
the land rose to quite a bluff at the water's edge, which 
was known among the Dutch villagers as " Blockje's 
Bergh." From the bluff the low hill fell gradually to 
the marsh or morass just mentioned, the road continuing 
along between them. 1 Right here, therefore, the ap- 
proach by the road was narrow, and at the corner of 
Twenty-third Street was confined to the crossing at the 
According to his own account, and frorh our present 
knowledge of the topography, Stirling evidently came to 
a halt on or just this side of " Blockje's Bergh." Seeing 
the British not far in his front, and taking in the situation 
at a glance, he ordered Atlee to post his men on the left 
of the road and wait the enemy's coming up, while he 
himself retired with Small wood's and Haslet's to form 
line on a piece of " very advantageous ground " further 
back. Atlee reports this preliminary move as follows : 
" I 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 

1 The writer is indebted to the Hon. Teunis G. Bergen, of Bay Ridge, 
L. I., for an accurate description and sketch of the Gowanus Road, as it lay 
at the time of the battle. His survey is followed in the " Map of the Brook- 
lyn Defences," etc., Title, Maps. Part II. 



-IJI'JI . :.KVki.!'!'l'.K.liTH RKGIMK'NT OV !• ' m 
UlUCiA'DlKH i IKNKRAl , 17'/"/ 

i " ■ ' NN. 



they were first discovered, and thereby give time to 
our brigade to form upon the heights. This order I 
immediately obeyed, notwithstanding we must be ex- 
posed without any kind of cover to the great fire of the 
enemy's musketry and field-pieces, charged with round 
and grapeshot, and finely situated upon the eminence 
above mentioned, having 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 cross- 
ing the swamp, I ordered my detachment to file off 
to the left and take post in a wood upon the left of 
the brigade." ' General Parsons says : " We took pos- 
session of a hill about two miles from camp, and detached 
Colonel Atlee to meet them further on the road ; in about 
sixty rods he drew up and received the enemy's fire and 
gave them a well-directed fire from his regiment, which 
did great execution, and then retreated to the hill." 

This advantageous site, where Stirling had now drawn 
up his brigade to dispute Grant's progress, was the crest 
of the slope which rose northerly from the marsh and low 
ground around " Blockje's Bergh," and which to-day is 
represented by about the line of Twentieth Street.' Here 

1 Atlee's l Journal. Force, 5th Series, vol. i., p. 1251. 

* Probably the earliest of modern attempts to identify the site where 
Stirling formed his line was that made in 1839 by Maj. D. B. Douglass, for- 
merly of the United States Army. Greenwood Cemetery, says Mr. Cleve- 
land in his history of Greenwood, owes its present beautiful appearance 
largely to this officer's " energy and taste," Douglass having been one of 
the first surveyors of the ground. He located Stirling's position on what 
was then known as WyckofTs hill, between Eighteenth and Twentieth 
streets ; and tradition and all the original documents confirm this selection. 
This was a lower elevation in the general slope from the main ridge 
towards the bay. Stirling simply drew his men up in a straight line from 
the road towards the hill-tops, and beyond him on the same line or more in 


l66 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

was an elevation or ridge favorable for defence, and here 
Stirling proposed to make a stand. On the right, next to 
the road, he posted Smallwood's battalion, under Major 
Gist ; further along up the hillside were the Delawares, 
under Major MacDonough ;' and on their left, in the 
woods above, Atlee's men formed after falling back from 
their attempt to stop the enemy. 

When KachleinV riflemen came up, the general sta- 
tioned part of them along hedges near the foot of the 
hill in front of the Marylanders, and part in front of 
the woods near Atlce. The line had hardly been formed 
before it was observed that the enemy threatened to 
overlap it on the left, and Parsons was accordingly 
ordered to take Atlee's and Huntington's regiments and 
move still further into the woods to defeat the designs on 
that flank. 

Finding Stirling thus thrown across their path, the 
British also drew up in line and disposed their force as if 
intending to attack him at once. About opposite to the 
Marylanders, possibly on Blockje's Bcrgh, Grant posted 
the sixth brigade in two lines, while the fourth brigade 
was extended in a single line from the low ground to the 
top of the hills in Greenwood Cemetery. 

Here, then, was a regular battle formation — Grant and 
Stirling opposing each other — and we may regard it with 
interest not only as the only line of battle preserved, on 

advance, was Parsons. The map in Sparks' Washington putting Stirling 
down near the Narrows is erroneous. 

1 The colonels and lieutenant-colonels of both these regiments were 
detained at New York as members of the court-martial which tried Lieu- 
tenant-colonel Zcdwitz, of MacDougall's regiment, charged with treason- 
able correspondence with the enemy. They joined their regiments after 
the battle. 

' This name appears in other accounts as Kichlinc or Keichline. It is 
properly Kachlein, being so spelled by other members of this officer's 


the American side at least, during this day's struggle, but 
as being the first instance in the Revolution where we 
met the British in the open field. Before this it had been 
fighting under different conditions — the regulars mowed 
down at Bunker Hill, Montgomery attempting to storm 
Quebec, or Moultrie bravely holding a fort against a 
fleet ; now the soldiers on either side stood face to face, 
and the opportunity seemed at hand to fairly test their 
native courage. Greatly disproportionate, however, was 
the strength of these two lines. Stirling's, all told, con- 
tained not more than sixteen hundred men ; while 
Grant's, which besides the two brigades included the 
Forty-second Highlanders and two companies of Ameri- 
can loyalists, was little less than seven thousand strong. 
But if we find here a threatening attitude, let us not ex- 
pect any desperate fighting. It was not Grant's object 
to bring on an engagement at this early hour, now seven 
o'clock in the morning, for he wished to keep Stirling 
where he was until the other movements of the day were 
developed. He contented himself with appearing to be 
on the point of attack, and Stirling could do no more 
than prepare for a stubborn defence of his ground. 

The first move of the British was to send forward a 
small body of light troops from their left, which advanced 
to within one hundred and fifty yards of Stirling's right. 
This would bring them not far from the little bridge on 
the road, where, from behind hedges and apple-trees, they 
opened fire on our advanced riflemen, who replied with 

In the mean time, Stirling was reinforced by a two-gun 
batter)- from Knox's artillery, under Captain-Lieutenant 
Bcnajah Carpenter, of Providence, R. I., which was at 
once placed on the hillside to command the road, and, 

1 08 CAMPAIGN OF 1 J/6. 

according to Stirling, " the only approach for sonic lum- 
drcd yards," which must have been that part of the road 
running over the bridge. The skirmishing was kept up 
at a lively rate for about two hours, and occasionally, it 
would appear, our entire line engaged in the fire. Of the 
particular incidents which occurred at this point we have 
almost nothing ; but perhaps, from one or two mere re- 
ferences that have been preserved, the whole scene can 
be imagined. " The enemy," writes one of the Maryland 
soldiers, "advanced towards us, upon which Lord Stir- 
ling, who commanded, drew up in a line and offered them 
battle in true English taste. The British then advanced 
within about 200 yards of us, and began a heavy fire from 
their cannon and mortars, for both the Balls and Shells 
flew very fast, now and then taking off a head. Our 
men stood it amazingly well ; not even one of them shewed 
a Disposition to shrink. Our orders were not to fire 
until the Enemy came within fifty yards of us, but Avhen 
they perceived we stood their fire so cooly and resolutely 
they declined coming any nearer, altho' treble our num- 
ber." ' Colonel Haslet, although not with his regiment, 
reported to his friend Caesar Rodney that " the Delawares 
drew up on the side of a hill, and stood upwards of four 
hours, with a firm, determined countenance, in close 
array, their colors flying, the enemy's artillery playing 
on them all the while, not daring to advance and attack 
them;" 3 and his ensign, Stephens, pointed with pride to 
the standard " torn with shot" while held in his hands. 

Galled perhaps by the fire of Carpenter's battery, the 
British light troops retired to their main line, and the 

1 Extracts from the Stiles Diaij in vol. ii., p. 488, of the Long Island His- 
torical Society's Memoirs. 

" Haslet to Rodney. Force, 5th Scries, vol. ii., p. 881. 


firing from this time was continued chiefly by the artil- 
lery. On their left they advanced one howitzer to within 
three hundred yards of Stirling's right, and in front of his 
left they opened with another piece at a distance of six 
hundred yards, and until about eleven o'clock the cannon- 
ading was vigorously sustained. Here was an engage- 
ment begun, and for four hours Stirling's men were en- 
couraged with the belief that they were holding back the 
invaders. Their general inspired them with his own res- 
olution and bravery, both by word and example; and their 
good conduct in this their first experience under fire, 
exposed without cover to cannon and musket shot, indi- 
cated that Grant could not have pushed them back with- 
out suffering severely. The casualties had not been large, 
but the nerves of the men were none the less tested by 
the ordeal. -Among the Marylanders, Captain Edward 
Veazcy, who commanded one of the independent compan- 
ies, doing duty with Smallwood's regiment, fell " early 
in the engagement ;" and either here, or on the retreat 
at a later hour, also fell Captain Carpenter, whose battery 
had been doing good work on Stirling's line. Of the 
Dclawarcs, Major MacDonough and Lieutenants An- 
derson and Course were slightly wounded. Accounts 
agree that few of the men in either Smallwood's, Haslet's, 
or Kachlcin's battalions were killed or wounded while 
holding this position. 

The three regiments immediately under Stirling thus 
not only appeared to be doing well, but had actually 
proved themselves the best of soldiers, both by keeping 
ao/un wavering line when the British light troops ad- 
vanced, as if to be followed by the main column, and in 

\ maintaining their ranks and discipline when subjected to 

/ the subsequent fire of the artillery. 


Nor were these the only men who did themselves credit. 
That little party composed of Atlce's and Huntington's 
battalions, under General Parsons, which had gone into 
the woods to protect Stirling's left, must not be for- 
gotten. Our published accounts heretofore fail to particu- 
larize the service it did; but it was of no small account, as 
Parson's and Atlee's independent testimony and the re- 
turns of the British losses clearly show. The party, not 
much over three hundred strong, filed off to the left, and 
soon came in sight of " a hill of clear ground " about three 
hundred yards distant, which was judged to be the pro- 
per situation from which to watch the enemy. 1 The di- 
rection Parsons' men took, the distances mentioned, and 
the fact that tradition associates the site with part of 
the fighting on that day, can leave no doubt but that 
the hill referred to here was one of the two or three 
distinct elevations in the north-western section of Green- 
wood Cemetery, and to one of which has since been 
given the commemorative title of " Battle Hill." A spot 
fitly named, for around it some brave work was done ! 
As the detachment neared the hill, the British flanking 
troops were also observed to be marching to seize it. 
Atlee seeing this hurried his men to reach it first, but the 
enemy were there before him and poured a volley into his 
battalion. Fortunately, not being well aimed, this did 
trifling damage, but under the shock a part of his men, 
with two companies from the Delaware regiment, which 
had been ordered to join them, wavered. Rallying the 
most of them, Atlee soon ordered an advance up the hill, 
telling the men at the same time " to preserve their fire and 
aim aright ;" and they all pushed forward with so much 

1 Alice's Journal. Force, 5th Scries, vol. i., p. 1251. 


resolution, and apparently with such an effective discharge 
of their pieces, that the enemy fell back, leaving behind 
1 them twelve killed and a lieutenant and four privates 
wounded. In this encounter Atlcc lost his " worthy 
friend " and lieutenant-colonel, Caleb Parry, who fell dead 
upon the field without a groan, while cheering on the bat- 
talion. Ordering four soldiers to take the remains of " the 
hero" back into the Brooklyn lines, Atlee halted his 
"brave fellows" on the hill, and all Parsons' command 
here took post to await the further movements of the 
British on this flank. The force they had met and 
repulsed consisted of the Twenty-third and Forty- 
fourth and a part of the Seventeenth regiments, by 
whom they were soon to be attacked again. In half an 
hour after the first affair the enemy formed for another 
effort to seize the hill, but again Atlcc'sand Huntington's 
men opened upon them, and for a second time compelled 
their retreat, with the loss of Lieutenant-Colonel Grant, a 
brave and valued field-officer of the Fortieth Regiment, 
whose fall gave ground for the report, credited for some 
days after in the American army, that Major-General 
Grant, the division commander, was among the enemy's 
killed in the battle of Long Island. Parsons' men by this 
time had fired away all their ammunition (Atlee says that 
his battalion, at least, had entirely emptied their cartridge- 
boxes), and had used what charges could be got from the 
enemy's dead and wounded, when Huntington's ammuni- 
tion cart " very luckily" Came on the ground, and the men 
were re-supplied for still a third attack, which was threat- 
ened with the assistance of the Forty-second Highland- 
ers ; but the British this time kept a safe distance, and 
Parsons and Atlee remained on the hill, where they col- 
lected the enemy's dead and placed their wounded under 

172 CAMPAIGN OF 1776. 

the shelter of the trees. Thus bravely and effectively had 
this small body of Americans protected Stirling's flank 
and dealt the enemy the severest blows they suffered at 
any one point during the day, and this, as in the case of 
Stirling's men, with but small loss to themselves. From 
behind fences and trees, and, if tradition is correct, from 
the tops of trees as well, and from open ground on the 
hill, they kept up their destructive fire and successfully 
accomplished what they had been called upon to do. 1 
That the British did not intend at this hour to drive Par- 
sons and Atlee from their post is no detraction from the 
spirited fight made by these officers and their men, who 
knew nothing of the enemy's intentions, and who actually 
won the field from the troops they met. All along this 
front, from Stirling holding the road on the right to Par- 
sons holding the left, with a long gap between them, the 
fighting thus far had resulted most favorably to the 
American side. The main line, as already stated, had 
lost not more than two officers killed and three or four 
wounded, with a small number of men; while Parsons 
and Atlee both report that in addition to the death of 
Lieutenant-Colonel Parry they lost only one or two men 
wounded. But, on the part of the British, Grant's two 
brigades, with the Forty-second Highlanders and the 

1 Parsons' reference to this affair at or near " Battle Hill " in Greenwood is 
as follows : " I was ordered with Col. Atlee and part of his Reg't, and 
Lt. Col. Clark with Col. Huntington's Reg't to cover the left flank of our 
main body. This we executed though our number did at no time exceed 
300 men and we were attacked three several times by two regiments, y* 44 ,h 
and 23' 1 and repulsed them in every attack with considerable loss. The 
number of dead we had collected together and the heap the enemy had made 
we supposed amounted to about 60. We had 12 or 14 wounded prisoners 
who we caused to be dressed and their wounds put in tr . Dest state our situ- 
ation would admit." — Document 5. 

Sec Colonel Atlce's journal in Force's Archives lor a. full account of the part 
his battalion took in this fighting. 


two companies of New York loyalists, lost, according 
to Howe's official report, two officers killed and four 
wounded, and among the men twenty-five killed and 
ninety-nine wounded. The four regiments alone which 
at different times encountered Parsons — the Seventeenth, 
Twenty-third, Forty-fourth, and Forty-second — lost in the 
aggregate eighty-six officers and men killed and wounded. 

While, now, Stirling and I 'arsons seemed to be effectu- 
ally blocking the advance of the British by the lower road 
and the Greenwood hills, what was the situation at the 
other passes ? 

Up to eight o'clock, some five hours after Grant's ap- 
pearance at the Red Lion, no determined attack had been 
reported from cither the Flatbush or Bedford roads. 
The Hessians had made some show of advancing from 
Flatbush at an early hour, but they had not as yet driven 
in our pickets, although approaching near enough for the 
guns at the breastwork on the road to fire upon them. 
No word had come from Miles ; nothing had been heard 
from the patrol of officers at the Jamaica Pass. Whatever 
tactics the enemy were pursuing, it was evident that at 
this hour they had not developed indications of a simulta- 
neous advance " all along the line." Were they making 
their principal push against Stirling ? Were they waiting 
for the fleet to work its way up to co-operate ? or would 
they still attempt to force the passes and the hills at all 
points and overcome the American out-guards by sheer 
weight of numbers ? Whatever theory our generals may 
have entertained at this time as to the intentions of the 
British — a point which we have no means of determining 
— it is certain that at about half-past eight or nine 
o'clock Major-Gcncral Sullivan rode out from the 
Brooklyn lines to the Flatbush Pass, with the evident pur- 

"""""'■' r " r ' "- '-'-■■■■ - -■ ' - 

174 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

pose of examining the situation at that and other points, 
and of obtaining the latest information respecting the 
enemy's movements. We have this substantially from 
his own pen : " I went," he says, " to the hill near Flat- 
bush to reconnoitre the enemy." 1 Nothing more natural, 
and nothing more necessary ; the situation at that hour re- 
quired that some responsible general officer should be in 
this vicinity to direct the disposition of the troops the 
• moment the enemy uncovered their plan. Stirling on the 
lower road had his hands full, and it became some one's 
duty to see that he was not put in danger by any possible 
mishap elsewhere on the hills. Sullivan, therefore, the 
second in command, went out to " examine" and to " rec- 
onnoitre." He had been out the evening before, making 
the rounds with Putnam ; to him Miles had reported the 
situation of affairs on the extreme left ; and it was, by his 
general orders that the last detail of guards had been 
made for each of the passes. He was accordingly famil- 
iar with the plan of the outer defence, and upon reaching 
the Flatbush Pass, where, as Miles states, he took his sta- 
tion at the redoubt or barricade on the road, he seems to 
have given certain directions on the strength of the in- 
formation he had obtained. If we may credit the writer 
of one of the letters published at the time, the general was 

1 Most of our writers arc led into the error of supposing that Sullivan 
was already at the Flatbush Pass, and that when he went to reconnoitre he 
started from this point. The general says : " I went to the Hill near Flatbush 
to reconnoitre the enemy, and with a picket of four hundred men was sur- 
rounded by the enemy," etc. He went to the hill — where from ? The main 
camp, necessarily. We already had our pickets well out in front, and had 
Sullivan gone beyond these he would have come upon the Hessians. Be- 
sides his position fully overlooked Flatbush, and no reconnoissance was 
necessary. Miles states that the general remained at the redoubt. The 
quotation above means no more than that Sullivan went out from the 
Brooklyn lines, and afterwards was surrounded and fought with four hun- 
dred of the guard who were there at the Pass with him. 



told that the main body of the enemy were advancing by 
the lower road, " whereupon he ordered another battalion 
to the assistance of Lord Stirling, keeping 800 men to 
guard the pass." 1 It is not difficult to accept this as a 
correct statement of what actually occurred, because it is 
what we should expect would have taken place under the 
circumstances. That Sullivan took out any additional 
troops with him when he went to the pass docs not ap- 
pear, but doubtless some were sent there. But as to 
this Flatbush Pass, the most that can be said with any 
degree of certainty is, that at about nine o'clock in 
the morning the Hessians still remained comparatively 
quiet at the foot of the hills below ; that our guards 
and pickets stood at their different posts, not in regular 
line, but detached on either side of the road, the com- 
mander of each party governing himself as necessity 
required ; that they were expected to hold that point 
stubbornly, if for no other purpose now than t6 secure 
Stirling's line of retreat ; and that if attacked they were 
to be reinforced. At the hour Sullivan reached the pass 
the situation at all points appeared to be satisfactory. 

But little did the Americans suspect that at the very 
moment their defence seemed well arranged and their out- 
guards vigilant they were already in the web which the 
enemy had been silently weaving around them during the 
night. That flanking column ! Skilfully had it played its 
part in the British plans, and with crushing weight was it 
now to fall upon our outpost guards, who fcii! themselves 
secure along the hills and in the woods. Cross again into 
the opposite camp and follow the approach of this un- 
looked-for danger. First, Lord Howe withdrew Corn- 

1 Document 19. 

I76 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

wallis from Flatbush to Flatlands towards evening on the <' 
26th, and at nine o'clock at night set this flanking corps ixi 
motion. Sir Henry Clinton commanded the van, which 
consisted of the light dragoons and the brigade of light 
infantry. Cornwallis and the reserve immediately fol- 
lowed ; and after him marched the First Brigade and the 
Seventy-first Regiment, with fourteen pieces of field ar- 
tillery. These troops formed the advance corps, and were 
followed at a proper interval by Lord Percy and Howe 
himself, with the Second, Third, and Fifth brigades, the 
guards, and ten guns. The Forty-ninth Regiment, with 
four twelve-pounders, and the baggage with a separate 
guard, brought up the rear. All told, this column was 
hardly less than ten thousand strong. With three Flatbush 
Tories acting as guides, it took up the march and headed, 
as Howe reports, "across the country through the new 
lots" towards the Jamaica Pass, moving slowly and cau- 
tiously along the road from Flatlands until it reached 
Shoemaker's Bridge, which crossed a creek emptying into 
Jamaica Bay, when the column struck over the fields to 
fhe Jamaica Road, where it came to a halt in the open lots 
a short distance south-cast of the pass, and directly in 
front of Howard's Halfway House.' 
♦ Here now occurred one of those incidents which, though 
insignificant in themselves, sometimes become fatalities 
that turn the scale of battle. The five American officers 
whom General Sullivan had sent out the evening before 
to patrol this pass had stationed themselves at this time, 
now between two and three o'clock on the morning of the 
27th, a short distance east of Howard's house, apparently 
waiting for sounds of the enemy on the line of the road. 

1 Consult map of the battle-field, Part II. 



Evidently they had no thought of his approach "across 
lots" from the direction of Flatlands, or they could not 
hdve left the pass unwatched by one or more of the part}-. 
For most of them, this was the first tour of military duty 
of so responsible a nature, and whatever mistakes they 
made may be referred to their inexperience or ignorance 
of the relative situation of the roads in that vicinity. 
Who had charge of the party does not appear. So far as 
known, only one of them, Lieutenant Van Wagencn, had 
seen any considerable service ; but although something of 
a veteran, having entered the army in 1775 and charged 
with Montgomery upon Quebec, he could have known 
nothing of the country he was now patrolling. Lieuten- 
ants Troup and Dunscomb were young Columbia College 
graduates of two years' standing, who had eagerly taken 
up the cause of the colonists in the midst of adverse asso- 
ciations. Gilliland may have once been an officer in Mc- 
Dougall's regiment, and Iloogland was adjutant of Col- 
onel Lasher's battalion. I lad these officers, who without 
doubt were all mounted, been patrolling at the pass or 
nearer the lines, the events of the 27th might have worn a 
far different aspect. As it was, the British by coming 
into the road at Howard's had put themselves in the rear 
of' the patrol, and its capture was quickly effected. Cap- 
tain William Glanville Evelyn, " a gallant officer" of the 
Fourth Infantry, or King's Own, and a descendant of the 
eminent John Evelyn, of England, led the British advance 
this night, and it fell to his fortune to surround and cap- 
ture all five American officers and send them immediately 
to Clinton, who commanded the leading column. Here 
was a blow inflicted upon us by the British, the real im- 
portance of which they themselves even were ignorant of, 

for they had made prisoners of the only patrol that was. 

1/8 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. /* 

watching the Jamaica route from the pass down to t)rc 
very lines themselves ! 

Clinton " interrogated " the prisoners upon the spot, aVid 
ascertained from them that the pass had not been occu- 
pied by the Americans. He then attempted to obtain in- 
formation of the position at Brooklyn and the number of 
troops now there, by pressing the officers with questions, 
when Dunscomb, indignant at the advantage he was tak- 
ing of their situation, replied to Clinton that " under other 
circumstances he would not dare insult them in that man- 
ner." For this the young lieutenant was called " an im- 
pudent rebel," and the British officers threatened to have 
him hanged. Dunscomb's courage was equal to the 
occasion, and, scouting the threat, declared that Washing- 
ton would hang man for man in return, and that as 
for himself he should give Clinton no further informa- 
tion. But stoutly as Dunscomb and his fellows main- 
tained their rights and honor as prisoners, their capture 
was one of the fatal turns that brought misfortune to the 
American army.' 

1 Hardly one of our modern accounts refers to this patrol or its capture. 
The incident, however, affected the situation gravely. Howe mentions it 
in his report as follows: "General Clinton being arrived within half a mile 
of the pass about two hours before daybreak, halted, and settled his dispo- 
sition 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 Light 
Infantry to secure it." Gordon says this: "One of his [Clinton's] patrols 
falls in with a patrol of American officers on horseback, who arc trepanned 
and made prisoners." The letter in the South Carolina Gazette {Document 
19) is to similar effect : "Five officers were also sent out on horseback 
to patrol the last-mentioned road and that leading to Jamaica, . . . and were 
all made prisoners." Still stronger is the testimony of a letter to be found 
in the Autobiography and Correspondence of Mary Granville, Mrs. Delany, 
-with Interesting Reminiscences of George III . and Queen Charlotte, &-'c, London, 
1S62. "The Hon. Mrs. Hoscawen to Mrs. Delany. — Clan Villa, 17th Oct. 
1776. . . . To complcat the prosperity of my journey I found on my 
return to y" inn the most delightful news of our success on Long Island so 




Upon learning that the pass was unguarded, Clinton, 
as Howe reports, ordered one of the light infantry bat- 
talions to occupy it, and soon after the main column fol- 
lowed. It would appear, however, that he still moved 
cautiously, and that the battalion, or the troops that fol- 
lowed, avoided a direct approach, and reached the Ja- 
maica Road on the other side of the pass by a rounda- 
bout lane known as the Rockaway Path. The innkeeper 
Howard was waked up, and with his son compelled to 

that I had a most agreeable supper and drank health to the noble brothers 
[the two Howes]. We have had a letter from Capt. Evelyn from the 
field of battle ; he was in y« brigade of light infantry, and took 5 officers 
prisoners -who were sent to observe our motions. He mentions Dr. Bos- 
cawen's son being well, for whom we were in great care, being the only 
child. O ! to compleat this by good news from N. York and then peace !" 
We know who these officers were from several sources, the most authorita- 
tive and important being the documents left by one of the party himself, 
Lieutenant Van Wagcncn, and now in the possession of his grandson, Mr. 
Gerret H. Van Wagenen, of Brooklyn. This officer had been sent down to 
Philadelphia in charge of prisoners from Canada. At this point his depo- 
sition states that " on his return to New York he found the enemy landing 
upon Long Island, and being a supernumerary he went to Long Island and 
offered his services to Gcn'l Sullivan, who requested him, and four other 
officers, namely, Robert Troup, Edward Dunscomb, William Guildcrland 
and Jeromus Hooghland, to go and reconnoitre the enemy, who were ob- 
served to be in motion, and in the various advances on the enemy, fell in 
with a body of horse and infantry by whom he and his little party were 
made prisoners, and continued a Prisoner for about twenty-two months." 
Respecting the questioning of the officers by Clinton, there is good author- 
ity. Lieutenants Troup and Dunscomb, who afterwards rose to the rank 
of Lieutenant-colonel and Captain respectively, have daughters still living 
in New York, and from their own recollections and from papers in their 
possession, the account given In the text is collated. At the time of Cap- 
tain Dunscomb's death one or more letters were published by friends who 
had the particulars of the incident directly from him. (Sec biographical 
sketches of these officers, Hart II.) The sending out of officers on such 
duty as was required this night, was not unusual. The British scouts who 
preceded the expedition to Lexington in 1775 were officers in disguise. 
Similar instances during the war could be recalled as at Brandywine. Mr. 
Henry Ondcrdonk, Jr., of Jamaica, states, in his carefully compiled and 
valuable collection of R 'evolutionary Incidents on Long Island, that the patrol 
was captured under a tree east of Howard's House. 


guide the British around to the road, where it was dis- 
covercd, as the patrol had stated, that the pass was un- 
guarded. When the whole force had marched through 
to the other side it was halted for a brief "rest and 
refreshment," and then continued down the road to Bed- 
ford, where the van, consisting of dragoons and light in- 
fantry, arrived about half-past eight o'clock in the morn- 
ing. So this flanking corps had succeeded in making a 
slow, difficult, and circuitous march of some nine miles 
from Flatlands during the night, and had placed itself 
directly in the rear of the left of the American outposts, 
before its approach was known in the Brooklyn camp. It 
was now nearer the lines than were our picket guards at 
either of the outposts on the hills, and by a swift advance 
down the Jamaica Road and along the Gowanus Road to 
its intersection with the Port Road, it could have inter- 
posed itself across every avenue of retreat from the hills 
to the lines. It was Howe's plan to cut off the American 
retreat entirely, but while successful in reaching our rear 
he fortunately failed to reap the fullest advantage of his 
move. The loss he was now able to inflict upon us was 
hardly a third of what might have been possible. But for 
the Americans it was more than enough. From this point 
followed trial and disaster. The day, which had opened 
so promisingly on the lower road, had already, at early 
dawn, been lost to them at the Jamaica Pass. 

What next happened after the British reached Bed- 
ford ? What, in the first place, had Miles been about in 
the woods on the extreme left that the enemy should 
gain his rear before he knew it ? Fortunately we have 
the colonel himself and his lieutenant-colonel, Brodhead, 
to tell us much if they do not explain all. Miles then 
puts it on record that, on the day before the engagement, 


General Sullivan came to his camp, to whom he reported 
his belief that when the enemy moved they would fall into 
the Jamaica Road, and he hoped there were troops there to 
watch them. On the following morning, at about seven 
o'clock, firing began at the redoubt on the Flatbush Road, 
and he immediately marched in that direction, but was 
stopped by Colonel Wyllys at the Bedford Pass, who in- 
formed him that he could not pass on, as they were to 
defend the Bedford Road. " Colonel Wyllys bearing a 
Continental, and I a State commission," says Miles, " he 
was considered a senior officer, and I was obliged to sub- 
mit ; but I told him I was convinced the main body of the 
enemy would take the Jamaica Road, that there was no 
probability of their coming along the road he was then 
guarding, and if he would not let me proceed to where 
the firing was, I would return and endeavor to get into 
the Jamaica Road before General Howe. To this he 
consented, and I immediately made a retrograde march, 
and after marching nearly two miles, the whole distance 
through woods, I arrived within sight of the Jamaica 
Road, and to my great mortification I saw the main body 
of the enemy in full march between me and our lines, and 
the baggage guard just coming into the road." 

Had Miles been surprised ? This is one of the prob- 
lems of the battle. For four days he had been on the 
watch on this flank, and now the British were in his 
rear! Would he have made that "retrograde" march 
this morning, when the strictest attention to one's particu- 
lar orders was necessary, unless he had known that there 
were no troops on the Jamaica Road, and unless it was a 
part of his duty to reconnoitre in that direction ? But 
he was now making a stout effort to find and fight Howe, 

1 82 CAMPAIGN OF I 7/6. 

and bclorc charging him with a blunder let us follow the 
battle to its close. 

One of Miles' soldiers hurried into camp and reported 
to Putnam that infantry and cavalry were marching 
down from the Jamaica Pass ;' but all too late, for right 
upon the heels of the information came the enemy ! 
They pushed down the road from Bedford, and across 
the country, to attack the American outguards in the 
rear, while the Hessians were to come up in front. So, 
if we glance over the field again at about half-past nine or 
ten o'clock on this eventful morning, we find the whole 
aspect changed, and our entire force on the hills appar- 
ently caught in a trap. Stirling was still facing Grant 
upon the right, but his rear was in danger ; while Sullivan 
and the picket guards at the other passes were wedged 
in between the two powerful columns under Howe and 
De Heister. What now was done ? Who escaped ? 
' Evidently Miles, way out in the woods on the left, 
had the least prospect of getting back to the Brooklyn 
lines. When he found the British on the road between 
him and camp he first proposed to attack their baggage 
guard and cut his way through to the Sound, but on con- 
sulting his officers (his first battalion alone being with 
him) he turned about, determined to attempt a retreat to 
camp. It was impossible for him to succeed, for he had 
a march of full three miles to make ; and after encounter- 
ing the enemy once or twice in the woods, he, with many 
of his men, was compelled to surrender. Brodhead, 
while marching through the woods in Indian file to join 
him, was also attacked and his men dispersed, though 
most of them, with the lieutenant-colonel himself, escaped 

1 Font, 5th Series, vol. i., p. 1195. 



to the lines. The rout was speedily communicated to 
the guards at the two remaining- points. At the Bedford 
Pass the detachments under Colonel Wyllys and Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel Wills appear to have realized their danger 
about the time the British reached Bedford village. 
Finding Miles' troops broken up and flying, they too, 
through fear of being intercepted, took up the retreat. 
Finally, at the Flatbush Pass — the last point in the out- 
post line to be attacked — the peril was still greater, for 
now the Hessians were moving up in front. Here, as wc 
have seen, General Sullivan had just arrived to examine 
the situation. He had not long to wait, however, before 
the nature of that situation fully dawned upon him and 
the troops at the pass. While watching the Hessians at 
Flatbush they suddenly hear the rattle of musketry on the 
left of their rear, where British light infantry and dra- 
goons arc beginning to chase and fire upon Miles, Brod- 
head, and Wyllys, and their broken detachments. The 
' Flatbush Pass was a point to be held, for it was the centre 
of the outpost line, and retreat therefrom would endanger 
Stirling ; but Sullivan and his men must act promptly if 
they would do no more even than save themselves, for the 
enemy by this time are much nearer the Brooklyn lines 
than they. Just what occurred at this juncture the rec- 
ords fail to tell us clearly. Did Sullivan, as one letter 
states, immediately send word to Stirling to retreat ? ' 

1 The supposition that Stirling commanded outside of the lines on Long 
Island is erroneous. He had command of the reserves in camp (Orders of 
August 25th), and was the proper officer to call upon to reinforce any part of the 
outer line in case of attack. Sullivan says, " Lord Stirling commanded the 
main body without the lines ;" by which is meant that he was with the princi- 
pal force that went out, as he was. Until the attack, the general officer of the 
day was in charge of the outposts. Sullivan governed himself according to 
circumstances. lie was to be second in command under Putnam within the 
lines, he writes ; but the situation soon required his presence outside, where 
he was also familiar with the dispositions. 

1 84 CAMPAIGN OF 1//6. 

This would have been (he first and natural step. Who- 
ever the commanding officer might be at the Flatbush 
Pass, it was for him to watch the situation at the outpost 
line and give orders to the right and left. All depended 
on what was done at that pass. If the guards there gave 
way all the others must give way instantly. Whether 
the word, therefore, reached Stirling or not, we must be- 
lieve that Sullivan sent it, as he ought to have done, and 
is reported to have done. As for the general himself and 
his party, retreat was the only alternative. Leaving the 
advanced pickets to fall back before the Hessians, they 
turned towards the British in their rear. Very soon 
they encountered the light infantry and dragoons, who 
were now engaging in the attack with the highest dash 
and spirit. Reinforced by four companies of the guards, 
the latter captured three pieces of our artillery — the 
same, doubtless, which had just been playing upon the 
Hessians, but were now turned, in the retreat, upon 

l the British — and which our gunners defended " heroic- 
ally" to the last. Sullivan and his men fought well, and 
apparently in separate parties, until nearly all that had 
been stationed at the Flatbush Pass succeeded in breaking 
or making their way through to the lines. 

/ Meanwhile the Hessians appeared. They came up 
from the Flatbush plains with drums beating and colors 
flying. Donop's grenadiers and yagers led, and immedi- 
ately after them followed the veteran De Heister at the 
head of the brigades. Reaching the summit of the ridge, 
they deployed their lines, and putting their sharpshooters 
in advance, moved rapidly upon the position which our 
Flatbush Pass guard had just abandoned. They met 
with little opposition, for they had nothing before them 
but our scattered pickets. Soon, however, they fell in with 


the retreating groups which the British had cut off from 
the lines and had pushed back into the hills, and upon 
these they fell fiercely, and in many instances cruelly. 
Where they found a rifleman resisting too long, they 
pinned him with their bayonets, and to some of the 
wounded they showed no mercy. Most of the prisoners 
fell into their hands, for the reason that they had been 
driven towards the Hessians by the British; but other- 
wise the day afforded no opport unity for fair fighting be- 
tween these " foreigners" and our troops.' 

Thus all along the hills, from the Flat bush Pass to 
the extreme left, our outer guards were in full retreat ! 
It was a flight and fight to reach the Brooklyn lines ! 
Ten o'clock — and Miles, Brodhcad, Wyllys, Wills, John- 
ston, Hcnshaw, and Cornell, with two thousand men, were 
hurrying through the woods, down the slopes and across 
the fields, some singly, some in groups, some keeping 
together in companies, some in battalions, all aiming for 

' The Hessians arc usually credited with taking a prominent part in this 
battle, whereas the day was practically decided before they came up. Neces- 
sarily our guards at the Flatbush Pass knew that the British were in their rear 
as soon or sooner than the Hessians knew it. They therefore turned to 
meet this unexpected enemy. What Olney and Henshaw say settles this 
point. Olney states that Cornell marched towards the lines on hearing firing 
in his rear, leaving Olney to reinforce his pickets in front of the Hessians. 
Hcnshaw writes that, finding the enemy between him and the lines, and 
knowing no orders could come to retreat, he marched for camp. Cornell 
and Hcnshaw were old officers, knew the ground thoroughly, and saw at 
once that they must retreat. No mention is made of the Hessians. Lieutenant 
Olney was in front of the latter some time before he followed after his regi- 
ment. Howe reports that it was the British who took our guns in that part 
of the field. If there was any such severe fighting at that pass, as Von 
Elking makes out, would the Hessians have lost but two men killed — all 
that they lost during the day ? There arc errors of fact in this writer's 
account. The most that the Hessians did was to chase, capture, and some- 
times bayonet those of our soldiers whom the British had already routed. 
The real fighting of the day was done by Howe's English troops, and the 
very best he had, principally the light infantry, grenadiers, dragoons, 
and Highlanders. 


i86 campaign or 1776. 

one objective — the camp ! Merc they fought the light 
infantry ; there they were charged upon by the dra- 
goons ; those who were intercepted fell into the hands 
or upon the bayonets of the Hessians. It was a trying 
and desperate situation from which there was no relief 
and for a long time the woods echoed with the shouts and 
cries of the contending parties. But' upon the whole the 
loss to the Americans up to this time was not heavy, and 
could Stirling have been saved, the enemy would have 
had no great victory to boast of. Full half of Miles' two 
battalions reached the lines ; Wyllys' and Chester's 
suffered but slightly ; Henshaw and Cornell brought 
their men in without much loss, and in comparatively 
good order ; the greatest blow to the Jerseymen was the 
death of their brave colonel, Johnston, their casualties 
otherwise being light ; and Knowlton's hundred rangers 
just saved themselves from the dragoons, " with the 
utmost difficulty and on the full run." The artillery- 
men suffered more. General Sullivan himself, after show- 
ing good courage and avoiding capture until noon, en- 
deavored to conceal himself, but was found and made 
prisoner by three Hessian grenadiers.' 

The day was lost at the left and centre, and it only re- 
mains to return to Stirling on the right. This general 
stood his ground firmly, though the firing in his rear grew 

' During this fighting by the British infantry, Cornwallis and the reserves 
moved straight down the Jamaica Road. The Thirty-third Regiment and the 
grenadiers in their pursuit of some of the American fugitives approached the 
fortified lines between Fort Greene and Fort Putnam, and showed such eager- 
ness to storm them that, according to Howe's report, it required repeated 
orders to hold them back. On the part of the Americans, Little reports that 
the enemy " attempted to force our lines, but soon retreated, being met with 
a smart fire from our breastworks ;" and Little, no doubt, was at Fori 
Greene, an eye-witness. 


ominously distinct. Mc refused to retreat, says Scott, 
for want of orders. If Sullivan sent him orders, as \vc 
have assumed on one writer's authority that he did, they 
failed to reach him. The time had come for the general 
to act on his own judgment, and finding his salvation 
dependent on an immediate retreat, he fell back from 
Grant's front between eleven and twelve o'clock, but only 
to discover that he too was surrounded. The force 
which had anticipated him was Cornwallis with the 
Seventy-first Regiment and the Second Grenadiers, and 
they were holding his line of retreat on the Gowanus 
Road. Stirling, realizing his danger, at once determined 
upon the only manoeuvre that promised escape for any of 
his command. Upon his left lay the Gowanus marsh and 
creek, where both were at their broadest, and where a 
crossing had never been attempted. But now the attempt 
must be made, or every man is lost. Upon the other side 
of the cieek are the Brooklyn peninsula, the lines, and 
safety. Stirling therefore ordered his men to make their 
way across as they could, while, to protect them as they 
forded or swam, he himself took Gist and half the Mary- 
land battalion and proceeded to attack Cornwallis. 
Against all the misfortunes of the day this piece of resolu- 
tion and true soldiership stands out in noble relief. The 
Marylanders followed their general without flinching, and 
were soon " warmly engaged " with the enemy, who had 
posted themselves at a house — the old " Cortelyou" house 
— above the upper mills near the intersection of the Port 
and Gowanus roads. They rallied to the attack several 
times, as Stirling reports, and seemed on the point of dis- 
lodging Cornwallis, when reinforcements came up, and 
the British drove back the Marylanders into a piece of 
woods. Here, with conspicuous courage and determina- 



tion, they formed again for still another effort to break 
through. Stirling's example was inspiring. " He encour- 
aged and animated our young soldiers," writes Gist, "with 
almost invincible resolution." But his handful of brave 
men had done all that was possible, and in their last 
charge they were met by great numbers and forced to 
retire again, " with much precipitation and confusion." ' 
They broke up into small parties and sought escape. 
Nine only, among whom was Major Gist, succeeded in 
crossing the creek, the rest having retreated into the 
woods.' Stirling endeavored to get into the lines be- 
tween the British and Fort Box, or by way of the mill- 

1 The conduct of the Marylandcrs was soldierly beyond praise. But some 
accounts subject them to a singular martyrdom, killing every man of the two 
hundred and fifty-nine reported missing. As there was but one officer 
wounded, or at the most one killed and one wounded in the party, according 
to the official returns, the proportion of men killed was doubtless small. The 
letter in Forct, 5th Scries, vol. i., p. 1232, referring to this attack, bears every 
evidence of having been written by Gist himself, and it is quoted as his in the 
text. In this lettcr'Gist speaks of being surrounded on all sides, and then 
adds: "The impracticability of forcing through such a formidable body of 
troops rendered it the height of rashness and imprudence to risk the 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." This 
shows that there were many left to disperse. Their prudence was equal to 
their courage. 

1 Before Stirling's fight with Cornwallis took place; the mill and little 
bridge at the further end of the mill-dam across Gowanus Creek were burned 
down. Colonel Smallwood charged " a certain Colonel Ward " with the act, 
and claimed that the destruction of the bridge prevented the escape of Stirling 
and the Marylandcrs with him. Mr. Bancroft and Mr. Field repeat the 
charge. But Smallwood is contradicted both by Stirling and Gist, the former 
stating that he could not get by the British on the road full half a mile be- 
yond the bridge, and the latter adding that he was driven back into the 
woods. The charge had no foundation, the bridge not having been set on 
fire until after the enemy took possession of the road above (see Ewing's 
sketch). The " Colonel Ward " was Colonel Jonathan Ward, of Massa- 
chusetts ; and the probability is that he and Colonel Tyler, both of whom lost 
some men during the day, had been sent out on the Port Road, but, finding 
Cornwallis there, retreated, burning mill and bridge to obstruct the lattcr's 
possible advance in that quarter. 


dam, but finding this impossible, lie tunied, ran through, 
their fire, and eluding pursuit around a hill, made his way 
to the Hessian corps and surrendered himself to General 
De Heister. He had sacrificed himself and party as 
prisoners, but his main object was accomplished. The 
rest of the command was saved ! They crossed the 
marsh and creek with a loss of but two or three killed and 
six or eight drowned. 

It was during this scene in the incidents of the day 
that Washington and his staff came upon the ground. 
They had remained at New York watching the fleet, 
when, finding that no danger was to be apprehended from 
that quarter, they crossed to Long Island. From the top 
of one of the hills within the lines, possibly Cobble Hill, 
the Chief witnessed Stirling's retreat and fight, and is 
said there to have been profoundly moved as he saw 
how many brave men he must inevitably lose. Colonel 
Smallwood, of the Marylanders, who had rejoined his 
regiment, petitioned for a force to march out and assist 
Stirling, but the general declined on account of the risks 
involved. Douglas's Connecticut levies, just coming up 
from the ferry, 1 were sent to the extreme right opposite 
the mouth of Gowanus Creek, where, with Captain 
Thomas' Maryland Independent Company and two 
pieces of artillery, they stood ready to prevent pursuit of 
the retreating party by the enemy. 

Last of all, where were Parsons and Atlee ? Had 
they been holding that hill in Greenwood all the morning, 
with a tenacity worthy of veterans, only to be swallowed 

1 The reinforcements that came over during the forenoon, besides Doug- 
las's regiment, were Sage's and Selden's, which, with Douglas, completed 
Wadsworth's brigade on that side ; Charles Webb's, of McDougall's brigade ; 
and Scott, with Malcom and Humphrey's men, or the rest of his brigade. 


up in the defeat and confusion of the day ? Such was to 
be their fate. For some unexplained reason, when Stir- 
ling fell back, he failed to inform Parsons of his move. 
Both Parsons and Atlee state that no word reached them 
to join the general, and that it was greatly to their sur- 
prise when they found the line, whose flank they had 
been protecting, no longer there. Whatever the mistake, 
there was no time to lose, for the enemy were now press- 
ing on this little force, and it must retreat as Stirling had 
done. But it soon found itself more effectually hemmed 
in than any party in the field. Cornwallis, after driving 
the Marylandcrs back, had complete command of the 
road, and as Parsons and Atlee came along they found it 
impossible even to reach the marsh. Some escaped, but 
the greater part turned into the woods and were all 
taken. Atlee, with twenty-three men, avoided capture 
until five o'clock in the afternoon ; while Parsons, more 
fortunate, hid in a swamp, having escaped from the action 
and pursuit " as by a miracle," and with seven men made 
his way into our lines at daylight next morning.' 

The battle was over. It had continued at intervals, 
at one point or another, over a range of five miles, from 
three o'clock in the morning until nearly two in the after- 
noon. Less than five thousand Americans at the passes, 
including Stirling's command and all others who had 
marched out during the morning, had been swept up or 

' "Colonel Huntington's and the Maryland regiment suffered the most. 
General Parsons says that some of our men fought through the enemy not 
less than 7 or 8 times that day. lie lay out himself part of the night concealed 
in a swamp, from whence he made his escape with 7 men to our lines about 
break of day the next morning." — Letter from an Officer, Conn. Journal, Sep- 
tember 1 8th, 1776. " I came in with 7 men yesterday morning, much fa- 
tigued." — General Parsons, August 29th, 1776. 


swept back by nearly twenty thousand British and Hes- 
sians. For our troops it was a total defeat. They had 
been forced to abandon the outer line of defence — the 
very line Washington wished should be held "at all 
hazards" — and had been driven into the fortified camp 
on the Brooklyn peninsula. This result would have 
inevitably come, sooner or later, but no one could have 
entertained the possibility of its coming in this sudden and 
disastrous shape. 

Looking back over the day's work, the cause of the 
defeatris "apparent at once : Wc had been completely out- 
flanked and surprised on the Jamaica Road. Where the 
responsibility for the surprise should rest is another 
question. Evidently, if that patrol of officers had not 
been captured, but, upon discovering the approach of the 
enemy, had carried the word directly to Miles' camp and 
to headquarters, the enemy would not have gained the 
rear of our outposts without warning. /Miles and Wyllys 
could have interposed themselves across their path, and 
held the ground long enough at least to put our troops at 
the other points on their guard. The surprise of this 
patrol, therefore, can alone explain the defeat. But as 
the officers appear to have been sent out as an additional 
precaution, the responsibility must be shared by Miles 
and his regiment, who were the permanent guard on the 
left. Brodhead, who wrote eight days after the event, 
distinctly asserts that there were no troops beyond them, 
and that, for want of videttes, that flank was left for them 
to watch. Parsons, as officer of the day, reports that 
Miles was expected to patrol across the Jamaica Road. 
But to charge the coioncl personally with a fatal mistake 
or neglect is not warranted by the facts. His own 

I92 CAMPAIGN OK 1 776. 

patrols and pickets may have failed him. The simple fact 
appears that this regiment was put upon our left, that our 
left was turned, and the battle lost in consequence. As 
to the generalship of the day, if the responsibility falls on 
any one, it falls first on Sullivan, who sent out the 
mounted patrol in the first instance, and to whom it be- 
.onged to follow up the precautions in that direction. 
Putnam was in chief command, but nothing can be in- 
ferred from contemporary records to fasten neglect or 
blunder upon him any more than upon Washington, who, 
when he left the Brooklyn lines on the evening of the 
26th, must have known precisely what disposition had 
been made for the night at the hills and passes. And 
upon Washington certainly the responsibility cannot rest.' 

1 Responsibility for the Dekeat. — According to some of our more recent 
versions of this battle, the disaster is to be referred to the wilful disobedience, 
criminal inattention, and total incapacity of General Putnam. Several writers 
make the charge so pointedly and upon such an array of fact, that the reader 
is left to wonder how nil this should have escaped the notice of the com- 
mander-in-chief at the time, and why Putnam was not immediately court- 
martiallcd and dismissed the service, instead of being continued, as he was, 
in important commands. The charge is the more serious as it is advanced 
by so respectable an authority as Mr. Bancroft. Mr. Field, Mr. Dawson, and 
Dr. Stiles, following the latter, incline strongly in the same direction. 

Mr. Bancroft first assails Putnam for sending Stirling out to the right 
when word came in that the enemy were advancing and our pickets flying. 
This is criticised as " a rash order," because it sent Stirling to a position 
which was " dangerous in the extreme," with the Gowanus marsh in his rear. 
But as to this, it only needs to be said that Putnam's written instructions from 
Washington were imperative to prevent the enemy from passing the hills and 
approaching the works. It would have been a clear disregard of Washing- 
ton's intention had Putnam not sent Stirling out precisely as he did. The 
enemy were coming up from the Narrows and must be checked " at all haz- 
ards." Furthermore, the position Stirling took up at about Nineteenth Street 
was actually safer than any other on the outpost line. His right could not be 
turned, for it rested on the bay, and he could see every movement of the fleet. 
His left was well covered by Parsons, and no one could have imagined his 
rear in danger with the other outposts guarding it for more than three miles. 
As a matter of fact, Stirling was nearer the lines than either Miles or Wyllys. 

A^ain, it is charged that when Putnam and Sullivan visited the extreme 




What has been said of other defeats may be said with 
equal truth of this one : if it was a disaster, it was not a 
disgrace. Even the surprise upon the left discloses no/ 

left on the 26th " the movements of the enemy plainly disclosed thnt it was 
their intention to get into the rear of the Americans by the Jamaica Road," 
yet nothing was done. The foundation of this is probably a statement of 
Brodhead's and another by Miles to the effect that these generals might have 
themselves observed that the enemy were preparing for the Jamaica move. 
But if the intentions of the latter were so obvious at that time, it is proper to 
ask why it was not equally obvious on the next morning that they were actu- 
ally carrying out their intentions, and why Miles and Brodhead did not so 
report at an early hour. These officers were rightly impressed with the con- 
viction that the enemy would come by way of Jamaica, but it is certain that 
the enemy made no observable move in that direction from Flatlands, where 
they had been for three days, until nine o'clock that night. So says Howe. 
It was clearly in the plan of the British to give our outposts no ground for 
suspecting a flanking manoeuvre. Their movements were far from being 
" plainly disclosed." The quotation given by Mr. Bancroft in this connec- 
tion, namely, that " Washington's order to secure the Jamaica Road was not 
obeyed," unfortunately appears as original in a " Review of the War" pub- 
lished in 1779 and written by some irresponsible individual in England, who 
could neither have known what Washington's orders were, nor whether any 
attempt was made to carry them out, 

A further charge is this : " Early in the morning, Putnam was informed 
that infantry and cavalry were advancing on the Jamaica Road. He gave 
Washington no notice of the danger ; he sent Stirling no order to retreat." 
This is doubtless on the authority of a letter in Force, 5th Series, vol. i.,p. 1 195. 
But how early was Putnam informed ? The writer of the letter who brought 
the word was probably one of Miles' or Brodhead's men, for he tells us that 
his regiment was dressed in hunting-shirts, and he makes the very important 
statement that on his way back to his post he met the enemy ! The infor- 
mation came too late, for the British were now marching down towards the 
lines. Sullivan had gone to the Flatbush Pass, where he could understand 
the situation better than Putnam, and he was the proper officer to give direc- 
tions to the outposts at that moment. 

The charges made by Mr. Dawson have still less foundation. General Put- 
nam is stated never to have reconnoitred the enemy's position. Brodhead, 
however, states distinctly that he did. " It is also a well-established fact," 
says this writer, " that no general officer was outside the lines at Brooklyn 
on the night of the 26th." What is the authority for this ? Nixon, Stirling, 
and Parsons had been successively officers of the day, and presumably did 
their duty. Parsons, on the morning of the 27th, was on the lower road try- 
ing to rally the pickets before Stirling appeared with reinforcements. " The 
mounted patrols which General Sullivan had established, as well as the guards 
at some of the passes established by General Greene, were withdrawn." The 

194 CAMPAIGN OF 1 7/6. 

criminal misconduct. In the actual fighting- of the day 
our soldiers stood their ground. Necessarily we suffered 
heavily in prisoners, but otherwise our loss was incon- 

fact that all the passes were well guarded and n special patrol sent out, is a 
complete answer to this assertion, so fur as the night of the 26th is concerned. 
In this light the general conclusion arrived at by Mr. Dawson, that " General 
Putnam paid no attention to the orders of General Washington," cannot be 

/ With regard to General Sullivan, it Is but just to give his own explanation. 
A year after the battle, he wrote : " I know it has been generally reported 

1 that I commanded on Long Island when the actions happened there. This 
is by no means true ; General Putnam had taken the command from mc four 

j days before the action. Lord Stirling commanded the main body without the 

. lines ; 1 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 pa- 
trolling by night, while I had the command, as I had no foot for the purpose, 
for which I was never reimbursed, as it was supposed unnecessary." In an- 
other letter he adds : " I was so persuaded of the enemy's coming the [Ja- 
maica] route, that I went to examine, and was surrounded by the British army, 
and after a long and severe engagement was made prisoner." These letters 
were written when Sullivan was restless under charges brought against him 
in connection with the defeat at Brandywinc — charges which were properly 
dropped, however — and arc not conclusive as to the Long Island affair. 
His statements arc no doubt strictly true, but they in no way affect the main 
point, namely, did we or did we not have a patrol out on the Jamaica Road 
on the night of the 26th ? We have seen that there was such a patrol, and 
probably the best that had yet been sent out, and sent out, according to Lieu- 
tenant Van Wagenen, by General Sullivan himself. 

There are but few references to the question of responsibility in contempo- 
rary letters and documents. Gordon blames Sullivan as being over-confident. 
Miles and Brodhcad leave us to infer that this general had much to do with 
the plan of action, and must be held at least in part responsible. Sullivan, on 
the other hand, according to Brodhead, blamed Miles for the defeat, as Par- 
sons did. When these officers wrote, they wrote to defend their own conduct, 
and their testimony is necessarily incomplete so far as others arc concerned. 

/" In brief, the case seems to be this : On the night of the 26th we had all 
the roads guarded. On the morning of the 27th Putnam promptly reinforced 
the guards on the lower road when the enemy were announced. The arrange- 
ments were such that if an attack was made at any of the other points he and 
Sullivan were to have word of it in ample time. No word came in time from 
the left, for the reason that those who were to bring it were captured, or sur- 


siderable. All the light that \vc have to-day goes to 
establish the very important fact, originally credited and 
reported by Washington himself, but which hardly a 
single historical writer has since ventured to repeat, that 
at the battle of Long Island the British and Hessians suffered 
a loss in ki/hd and 'wounded equal to that inflicted upon the 
Americans. 1 I Iowc reported his total casualties at three 
hundred and sixty-seven officers and soldiers. On the 
side of the Americans the total loss did not exceed one 
thousand. About eight hundred, including ninety-one 
officers, were taken prisoners ; not more than six officers 
and about fifty privates were killed ; and less than sixteen 
officers and one hundred and fifty privates wounded. 
No frightful slaughter of our troops, as sometimes pic- j 
tured, occurred during the action. It was a field where 
the American soldier, in every fair encounter, proved him- 
self worthy of the cause he was fighting for. J 

To those who fell in the engagement we may render 
here a grateful tribute, though something more than this 
is due. Their services and sacrifices are deserving of 
remembrance rather by a lasting memorial ; for men died 

prised, or failed of their duty. Hence the disaster. The dispositions On 
Long Island were quite as complete as those at Brandywinc more than a year 
later, where we suffered nearly a similar surprise and as heavy a loss. Sup- 
pose the very small patrols sent out by Washington and Sullivan to gain in- 
formation before that battle had been captured, as at Long Island — we should 
have sustained a greater disaster than at Long Island. 

.Under this state of facts, to charge Putnam with the defeat of the 27th, in 
the terms which some writers have employed, is both unjust and unhistorical. 
That misfortune is not to be clouded with the additional reflection, that it 
was due to the gross neglect and general incapacity of the officer in com- 
mand. No facts or inferences justify the charge. No one hinted it at the- 
time ; nor did Washington in the least withdraw his confidence from Putnam, 
during the remainder of the campaign. 
1 Sec note at the close of the chapter. 


here who showed not less of individual worth and heroism 
than others who arc immortalized on victorious fields. 
Thus at the Flatbush Road we find Philip Johnston, 
colonel of the Jersey battalion, which formed part of the 
guard there during the night. He was the son of the 
worthy Judge Samuel Johnston, of the town of Sidney in 
Hunterdon County. In his youth he had been a student 
at Princeton, but, dropping his books, he took up the 
sword for the colonies in the French war, from which he 
returned with honor. The troubles with Great Britain 
found him ready again to fight in defence of common 
rights and his native soil. Parting from his wife and 
child with touching affection, he took the field with his 
regiment, and when attacked on Long Island he showed 
all the qualities which mark the true soldier. A gentle- 
man of high principle, an officer of fine presence, one of 
the strongest men in the army, he fought near Sullivan 
with the greatest bravery until he fell mortally wounded. 
That August 27th was his thirty-fifth birthday. 

Equally glorious and regretted was the death of 
Lieutenant-Colonel Caleb Parry, of Atlee's regiment, 
which occurred, as already noticed, at an earlier hour and 
in another part of the field. He too was in the prime of 
life, and eager to render the country some good service. 
A representative colonist, descended from an ancient and 
honorable family long seated in North Wales, and a man 
of polish and culture, he stood ready for any sacrifice 
demanded of him at this crisis. Parry came from Chester 
County, Pennsylvania, leaving a wife and five children, 
and crossed with his regiment to Long Island four days 
before the battle. Under what circumstances he fell has 
been told. As they crossed the line of Greenwood Cem- 
etery to take position at or near " Battle Hill," the little 




command was greeted with a sudden though harmless 
volley from the enemy. The men shrunk and fell back, 
but Atlee rallied and Parry cheered them on, and they 
gained the hill. It was here, while engaged in an offi- 
cer's highest duty, turning men to the enemy by his own 
example, that the fatal bullet pierced his brow. When 
some future monument rises from Greenwood to com- 
memorate the struggle of this day, it can bear no more 
fitting line among its inscriptions than this tribute of 
Brodhcad's, " Parry died like a hero." 

Captain Edward Veazey, of the Marylanders, be- 
longed to the family of Veazeys who settled in Cecil 
County, on the eastern shore of that State, and who traced 
their lineage back to the Norman De Veazies of the 
eleventh century. The captain was fifty-five years of 
age, took up the colonial cause at the start, raised the 
Seventh Independent Company of Maryland troops, and 
was among the earliest to fall in Stirling's line. 

Captain Joseph Jewett, of Huntington's Continentals, 
perhaps defending himself to the last, even when escape 
was impossible, was three times stabbed with British 
bayonets after surrendering his sword. Cared for by a 
humane surgeon, but still lingering in pain, he died on 
the morning of the 29th, and was buried in the Bennett 
orchard, near Twenty-second Street and Third Avenue. 
He left a family at Lyme, on the Connecticut, where he 
lived, and from where he went to join the army on the 
Lexington alarm. A soldier who fought on Long Island 
remembers him as " an officer much respected and be- 
loved, of elegant and commanding appearance, and of 
unquestionable braver}'." 

The officers and men of the artillery, who fought the 
six pieces we had in the action, covered themselves with 

198 CAMPAIGN OF 1776. 

honor. They were " the flower" of Knox's regiment, 
picked for a field fight. Captain Carpenter, of Provi- 
dence, fell in Stirling's command, leaving a widow to 
mourn him. Captain John Johnston, of Boston, was des- 
perately wounded, but recovered under the care of Sur- 
geon Eustis. The record which John Callender, of the 
same place, made for himself is a familiar story. To wipe 
out the stain of an undeserved sentence passed upon him 
after Bunker Hill, by which he was cashiered, he rejoined 
the artillery as a private soldier, and then, as a " cadet," 
fought his piece on Long Island until the enemy's bay- 
onets were at his breast. Upon his exchange as prisoner 
a year later, Washington restored him to his rank as cap- 
tain-lieutenant, and he served honorably to the end of 
the war. Harmanus Rutgers, one of the patriotic Rut- 
gers brothers in New York, serving, it would seem, as a 
gunner, was struck in the breast by a cannon-shot, and fell 
dead at his post. The tradition preserved in his family 
is that he was the first man killed in the battle. Knox, 
hearing how well his men had done, wrote to his wife : 
" I have met with some loss in my regiment. They 
fought like heroes and arc gone to glory." 

Of three others known to have been killed during the 
day, and who probably complete the list of officers, we 
have no more than the fact that they fell. They were 
Lieutenant Joseph Jacquct, of Miles' first battalion, and 
Lieutenants David Sloan and Charles Taylor, of the sec- 
ond battalion — all apparently from Chester County, Penn- 
sylvania. Hardly more than three or four names of the 
private soldiers who were killed have been preserved, 
owing doubtless to the fact that, if they were ever known, 
it was not until long after, when no rolls would show 
their fate. 



To the roll of the dead must be added also the honored 
name of General Nathaniel Wood hull, of Long Island. 
On the day after the battle, a party of British light 
horse, under Oliver Dc Lanccy, rode out on the Jamaica 
Road and surprised the general at an inn, where without 
provocation he was cruelly hacked in the head and arm, 
and carried off a prisoner. He survived until the 20th, 
when he died at New Utrecht. His loss was greatly re- 
gretted, for he was a man of energy and ability, and had 
the success of the Revolutionary cause most fervently at 

This battle was regarded at the time as one of very 
great importance, and the result created a deep impres- 
sion on both sides of the water. In England they had 
long been waiting for the news, and the king became de- 
pressed at the British delay in moving ; in addition, the 
first reports, coming by way of France, were unfavorable. 
But at last, at three o'clock on the morning of October 
10th, Major Cuyler, of Howe's staff, reached the govern- 
ment with the official accounts of the victory. Immedi- 
ately, as Walpole tells us, the Court was filled with " an 
extravagance of joy." The relief was so great that it was 
displayed with "the utmost ostentation." The king at 
once determined to send Howe " a red riband ;" and Lord 
Mansfield, who had thrown the weight of his great legal 
abilities against America, was created an earl. The 
Mayor and Corporation of York voted an address to his 
Majesty " on the victory at Long Island ;" at Leeds they 

1 Mr. Ondcrdonk, Mr. Thompson, and others have gathered and published 
all the known incidents respecting the fate of General Woodhull, which arc 
doubtless familiar to those interested in the history of Long Island. See 
General Scott's brief reference to him in Document 6. 

2CO CAMPAIGN OF 1 7/ 6. 

rang the bells, lighted windows, fired cannon, and started 
a huge bonfire which made the town " quite luminous ;" 
and at Halifax, Colne, Huddersfield, and many other 
places, similar rejoicings were held. At Limerick 
Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell ordered the garrison under 
arms, and fired three volleys "on account of the suc- 
cess of his Majesty's troops at Long Island ;" and, for 
the same reason, in the evening " a number of ladies and 
gentlemen were elegantly entertained at dinner by the 
bishop." From Paris Silas Deane wrote to Congress: 
" The want of instructions or intelligence or remittances, 
with the late check on Long Island, has sunk our credit 
to nothing." In Amsterdam, the centre of exchange for 
all Europe, English stocks rose ; but the Dutch, with 
characteristic shrewdness, failed to accept " our misfor- 
tune" as final, and took the opportunity to sell out. In 
London Tory circles they considered the American war 
as practically over, and some began to talk of new schemes 
of colonial government. 

As for America, the defeat, coupled with the subse- 
quent retreat, everywhere carried alarm and keen disap- 
pointment. Greene speaks of the " panic" in the coun- 
try. But at the same time many brave voices were raised 
to counteract despondency. Parsons, in the army, 
wrote : " I th'pk the trial of that day far from being any 
discouragement, but in general our men behaved with 
firmness." Bartlett, in Congress, sent word home to 
New Hampshire that he hoped the event would only 
make our generals more careful in their future opera- 
tions. " We have lost a battle and a small island," said 
Dr. Rush, of Philadelphia, in one of the sessions a few 
days later, " but we have not lost a State. Why then 



should we be discouraged ? Or why should we be dis- 
couraged even if we had lost a State ? If there were but 
one State left, still that one should peril all for indepen- 
dence." " The panic may seize whom it will," wrote John 
Adams; "it shall not seize me." Hut the grandest 
words inspired by the pervading anxiety were those 
penned by Abigail Adams, the noble wife of the Massa- 
chusetts delegate. " Wc have had many stories," she 
wrote from Braintree, September 9th, " concerning 
engagements upon Long Island this week, of our, lines 
being forced and of our troops returning to New York. 
Particulars we have not yet obtained. All we can learn 
is that we have been unsuccessful there ; having many 
men as prisoners, among whom are Lord Stirling and 
General Sullivan. But if we should be defeated, I think we 
shall not be conquered. A people fired, like the Romans, with 
love of their country and of liberty, a seal for the public good, 
and a noble emulation of glory, will not be disheartened or 
dispirited by a succession of unfortunate events. But, like 
them, may we learn by defeat the power of becoming invin- 
cible !" 

This was the true inspiration of the hour. It was this 
that sustained Washington and the strong men of the 
country through all the dark period that followed. The 
disaster of the 27th was a disciplinary experience. It 
was but the first of a series of blows that were to harden 
us for future endurance. The event was accepted in this 
spirit by all who had taken up the cause in earnest ; and 
in this light the memory of the day deserves to be for- 
ever celebrated and perpetuated. Here, on Long Island, 
all was done that could be done, for we had met the 
enemy at the sea. Here America made her first stand 



202 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

against England's first great effort to subdue her ; and 
here her resolution to continue resistance was first tested 
and tempered in the lire of battle. 

Thk Losses at the Battle. — So many widely different estimates have 
been made ns to the extent of the American loss on Long Island, that it be- 
comes a matter of historical interest to fix the actual figures, if possible, beyond 

The first official reference to the matter occurs in the letter which Washing- 
ton directed Colonel Harrison, his secretary, to write to Congress on the even- 
ing of the battle. Nothing definite on this point being known at that hour, 
Harrison, after announcing the attack of the enemy, and the retreat of the 
troops into the Brooklyn lines, could only make the vague report that the 
American loss was " pretty considerable." On Thursday morning, the 29th, 
at "half after four A.M.," Washington himself wrote to Hancock that he 
was still uncertain how far the army had suffered. On Saturday, the 31st, 
he wrote again, and in this letter gave an estimate in 'figures. This was the 
only report he made to Congress in the matter, except indirectly. " Nor 
have I," he writes, " been yet able to obtain an exact account of our loss ; 
we suppose it from seven hundred to thousand killed and taken." In sub- 
sequent public and private letters to his brother, to Governor Trumbull, Gen- 
eral Schuyler, and the Massachusetts Assembly, Washington did not vary 
these figures materially (except to make the estimate closer, about 800), 
and they stand, therefore, as his official return of the casualties of that 

Sir William Howe's report, on the other hand, presented altogether a differ- 
ent showing. It left no room for doubt as to the extent of the British vic- 
tory. Dated September 3d, seven days after the affair, it contained all those 
particulars of events up to that time which a successful general is well aware 
will be received with special satisfaction by his government. The landing at 
Gravcsend, the occupation of Flatbush, the skilful march of the flanking col- 
umn, the bravery of the troops, and the complete success of the entire plan of 
action were mentioned in order ; while a detailed statement and estimate of 
the losses on cither side, including a tabulated return of prisoners taken, only 
fortified the impression that a most damaging defeat had been served upon 
the Americans. Against Washington's estimate of a total of one thousand 
or less for his own loss, Howe reported that the enlisted men he captured 
alone numbered one thousand and six, and that in addition lie took ninety- 
one commissioned officers, of whom three were generals, three colonels, four 
lieutenant-colonels, three majors, eighteen captains, forty-three lieuten- 
ants, eleven ensigns, one adjutant, three surgeons, and two volunteers ; and 
he " computed " that in killed, wounded, and drowned, the Americans lost 
two thousand two hundred more. On the part of the British, Howe reported 



five officers and fifty-six men killed, twelve officers and two hundred and 
fifty-five men wounded, and one officer and thirty men prisoners and miss- 
ing. The Hessians lost two men killed, three officers and twenty-three men 
wounded. Howe's total loss, in a word, was made to appear at less than 
four hundred ; Washington's full three thousand three hundred. 

The apparent exactness of this report has secured it, in general, against close 
analysis. English historians, almost without exception, quote it as it stands, 
while there arc American writers who respect It so far as to pronounce Wash- 
ington's report clearly, and even purposely, Inaccurate. Thus the most re- 
cent English history of this period says : " The Americans fled in confusion, 
leaving upwards of three thousand killed, wounded, and prisoners, including 
their three generals of division ;" and in a note the writer adds : "Wash- 
ington's estimate of the loss on both sides was grossly incorrect. In his let- 
ter to Congress of the 30th August, giving a very meagre and evasive ac- 
count of the action, he says that his loss in killed and prisoners was from 700 
to 1000 ; and that he had reason to believe the enemy had suffered still more. 
This would seem to be a wilful misrepresentation to prevent the public alarm 
which might have been caused by the knowledge of his real loss ; were it not 
that in a private letter to his brother, three weeks afterwards, he makes a 
similar statement. General Howe's returns of prisoners, and of his own killed 
and wounded, are precise." (History of England during the A'eign of George 
the Third. By the Right Hon. William Massey, 1865.) Among Brook- 
lyn writers, Mr. Field asserts that Washington concealed the actual extent of 
his loss, and Dr. Stiles accepts the British report as it stands. Marshall puts 
the American loss at over 1000 ; Irving, 2000 ; Lossing, 1650 ; Field, 2000 ; 
Sparks, 1100 ; Bancroft, 800 ; Carrington, 970. Stcdman, the earliest British 
historian, gives 2000, while Adolphus, Jesse, and Massey, who cover the reign 
of George III., blindly follow Howe and give over 3000 for the American loss. 

There is but one explanation of this wide discrepancy between the British 
and American returns, namely : Washington's original estimate at its largest 
limit— one thousand, killed, wounded, and prisoners — was almost precisely cor- 

Of this there can be no question whatever, the proof being a matter of rec- 
ord. Thus, on the 8th of October, Washington issued the following order : 
" The General desires the commanding officers of each regiment or corps 
will giVc in a list of the names and the officers and men who were killed, 
taken, or missing in the action of the 27th of August on Long Island and since . 
thqt period. He desires the returns may be correct, &c." (Force). A large 
number of these lists are preserved in Force, 5th scries, vol. iii., and from these 
we obtain the losses of the following regiments : Hitchcock's, total loss, 
one officer and nine men ; Little's, three men ; Huntington's, twenty-one offi- 
cers and one hundred and eighty-six men ; Wyllys', one officer and nine 
men ; Tyler, three men ; Ward, three men ; Chester, twelve men ; Gay, four 
men ; Lasher, three officers. Smallwood's lost, according to Gist, twelve offi- 
cers and two hundred and forty-seven men ; Haslet, according to his own let 
tcrs, two officers and twenty-five men ; Johnston's New Jersey, two officers 
and lcs% than twenty-five men, the rolls before and after the battle showing no 



204 CAMPAIGN OF I776. 

greater difference in the strength of the regiment ; Miles' two battalions, six- 
teen officers and about one hundred and sixty men (Document 61) ; Atlec, 
eleven officers and seventy-seven men. (Ibid.) No official report of the losses 
in Lutz's, Kachlcin's, and Hay's detachments or the artillery can be found, but 
to give their total casualties nt one hundred and fifty officers and men is prob- 
ably a liberal estimate. Lutz lost six officers (all prisoners) ; Kachlein not 
more ; Hay, one ; the artillery, three. The regiments named in the forego- 
ing list include all from which Howe reported that he took officers prisoners, 
from which it is safe to conclude that these were all thut lost any. No others 
arc mentioned as having been engaged. These figures show in round num- 
bers a total of one thousand, and this was our total loss, according to official 
returns in nearly every case. 

How many of these, in the next place, were killed and wounded? If we 
arc to credit certain Hessian and British accounts, as well as those of our own 
local historians, the battle-field on Long Island was a scene of carnage, a pen 
in which our men were slaughtered without mercy. The confused strife, says 
one writer, " is too terrible for the imagination to dwell upon." " An appal- 
ling massacre," says another, " thus closed the combat." "The forest," writes 
a Hessian officer, " was a scene of horror ; there were certainly two thousand 
killed and wounded lying about." Lord Howe himself, as we have seen, 
" computed " that the American loss in killed and wounded alone was two 
thousand three hundred. But a striking commentary on this computation is 
not only the total omission on his part to mention how many of this very 
large number he buried on the field, but the important admission he makes 
that not more than sixty-seven wounded American officers and soldiers fell 
into his hands ! Where were the twenty-two hundred other maimed and 
fallen rebels ? Obviously, and as Howe must have well known, the Americans 
could carry few if any of their dead with them on their precipitate retreat, nor 
could any but the slightly hurt of the wounded make their escape. Full two 
thousand, by this calculation, must have been lcftjupon the field. Who buried 
them ? Were they the victims of the supposed frightful slaughter ? Did the 
British general purposely give an evasive estimate to cover up the inhu- 
manity which would thus have forever stained the glory of his victory ? 
Far from it. That " computation " has no basis to stand upon ; but, on the 
contrary, our loss in killed and wounded was not greater than the enemy's, 
but most probably less. ' 

This statement will bear close examination. On the 19th of September, 
after he must have been able to satisfy himself as to the extent of the defeat 
on Long Island, the commander-in-chief wrote to the Massachusetts Assem- 
bly that he had lost about eight hundred men, " more than three fourths of 
which were taken prisoners." He wrote the same thing to others. So Wash- 
ington felt authorized to state positively that we lost in killed and wounded 
that day not over two hundred men and officers. " The enemy's loss in killed," 
he added, "we could never ascertain; but have many reasons to believe 
that it was pretty considerable, and exceeded ours a good deal." General 
Parsons, who saw as much of the field as any other officer, wrote to John 
Adams two days after the battle : " Our loss in killed and wounded is incon- 



siderablc." General Scott, writing to John Jay, a week later, could say : 
" What our loss on Long Island was I am not able to estimate. I think from 
the best accounts we must have killed many of the enemy." Colonel Doug- 
las wrote, August 31st : " The enemy surrounded a large detachment of our 
army, took many, killed some and the rest got off. ... By the best ac- 
count we killed more of them than they did of us. But they took the most 
prisoners." Lieutenant-Colonel Chambers, who was in the way of gathering 
many particulars from the l'cnnsylvunians who escaped, says : " Our men 
behaved as bravely as men ever did ; but it is surprising that, with the su- 
periority of numbers, they were not cut to pieces. . . . Our loss is chiefly in 
prisoners." Lieutenant-Colonel Brodhcad, who had to retreat among the 
last over the very ground which others have marked out as the scene of the 
massacre, as the site where " lay nearly one thousand men, slain in the shock 
of battle, or by subsequent murder" (Field) — Brodhcad says : " I retreated 
to the lines, having lost out of the whole battalion, about one hundred men, 
officers included, which, as they were much scattered, must be chiefly pris- 
oners. ... No troops could behave better than the Southern, for though 
they seldom engaged less than five to one, they frequently repulsed the Enemy 
with great Slaughter, and I am confident that the number of killed and 
wounded on their side, is greater than on ours, notwithstanding we had to 
fight them front and rear under every disadvantage." Colonel Silliman, of 
Connecticut, who appears to have made particular inquiries in the matter, 
wrote, September 10th : " I think upon the best information I can get that 
we arc about 1000 men the worse for that action. The Enemy say they have 
about 800 of them prisoners. We have about 50 of them in the hospital 
wounded. Of the other 150 'tis said that in the engagement a considerable 
number of the riflemen deserted and went over to the enemy and some no 
doubt escaped towards the other end of the Island. On the whole I do not 
think we had 50 men killed in the action." (MS. letter.) These are state- 
ments made by officers who were present at the battle, and who wrote 
within a few days of the event. They all, with many others, reach the same 
conclusion that the enemy suffered in killed and wounded as much if not 
more than the Americans. Their testimony, moreover, is strengthened by 
what we know directly and indirectly from the returns and other sources. 
The loss in officers, of which we have exact figures, is one basis of calcu- 
lation. Ninety-one, as already stated, were taken prisoners, of whom nine 
were reported wounded in Howe's return. Among these were General 
Woodhull, Colonel Johnston, and Captain Jewett, all three mortally wounded, 
and Captain Bowie and Lieutenant Butler, of the Marylandcrs ; Captain John- 
ston, of the artillery ; Captain Peebles, of Miles', and Lieutenant Makepeace, 
of Huntington's. [Colonel Johnston is usually mentioned as having been 
killed on the field. But Howe's return gives one New Jersey colonel pris- 
oner, and Elking's Hessian account states that he was wounded after being 
made prisoner.] Among officers known to be wounded, not captured, were 
Major McDonough, Lieutenants Course and Anderson, of the Dclawares ; 
Lieutenant Hughes, of Hitchcock's; and Captain Farmer, of Miles'. Lieu- 
tenant Patterson, of Hay's detachment, was either killed or captured (Colonel 


206 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

Cunningham's return). The officers killed were Lieutenant-Colonel Parry, 
Captain Carpenter, Captain Vea/cy, and Lieutenants Sloan, Jacquet, and 
Taylor. Various accounts state that Colonel Rutgers, Lieutenant-Colonel 
Eppes, Major Abccl (of Lasher's), Captain Fellows, and Lieutenant Moore 
(of Pennsylvania) were killed, but there is an error in each case, all these offi- 
cers being reported alive lit different dates after the battle. We have, then, 
twenty-one killed or wounded (six only killed on the field) among the Ameri- 
can officers engaged in the action. If. as we have a right to assume, the 
same proportion held among the enlisted men, our total loss in killed and 
wounded could not have exceeded two hundred or two hundred and fifty, or 
more than one hundred less than the enemy's loss. Parsons and Atlee write 
that they lost but two or three. Miles says that In one of his skirmishes he 
.lost n number of men, but nearly all were made prisoners. Little's regiment 
lost one killed; Hitchcock's the same. The five companies of Small wood' 8 
battalion that attacked Cornwallis lost but one officer wounded, or nt the most 
one killed and one wounded, and there is no reason to suppose that the men 
suffered very heavily. The loss among the Delawarcs was nearly all in pris- 
oners. Lutz had six officers taken, but none killed or wounded ; Hay lost 
one officer, cither killed or prisoner. In Kachlcin's detachment it is certain 
that the lieutenant-colonel, major, adjutant, three captains, and three lieuten- 
ants were not killed, which leaves little room for casualties in a party of not 
over four or five companies. So of all the other regiments engaged, they suf- 
fered but slightly in killed or wounded. 

Howe's list of prisoners was undoubtedly swelled by captures among the 
Long Island militia and citizen Whigs after the battle. He includes General 
Woodhull and two lieutenants, for instance, who were not taken at the battle 
but on the day following, and who, as Washington says, were " never ar- 
ranged" in his army. 

The reports of the slaughter and massacre of our troops current in the 
enemy's camp at the time were greatly exaggerated. Some of our men were 
probably cut down most wantonly in the pursuit through the woods, both by 
British and Hessians, but the number was small. It is a noticeable and signi- 
ficant fact that the American accounts make no mention of any such whole- 
sale cruelty, and certainly our soldiers would have been the first to call atten- 
tion to it. That word " massacre" should have no place in any accurate 
description of the battle. 



The situation at the Brooklyn lines was relieved on the 
29th by the famous retreat of our army to New York. 
If Howe had surprised us by an unexpected manoeuvre 
on the 27th, Washington was now to surprise the British 
with a different manoeuvre, conducted with greater skill. 
" A fine retreat," says Jomini, " should meet with a re- 
ward equal to that given for a great victory." History 
assigns such a reward to Washington at Long Island. 

This success — the extrication of the army from what 
was soon felt to be a dangerous position — was not to be 
achieved without a previous two days' experience of great 
hardship, trial, and despondency on the part of the troops, 
and unceasing anxiety and watchfulness on the part of the 
commander-in-chief. The night of the 27th had closed 
cheerlessly on the devoted Americans. The hills had 
been wrested from them ; many of their best officers and 
soldiers were slain or prisoners ; before them stood the 
whole British army, flushed with success, and liable at any 
hour to rush upon their works, and in their rear flowed a 
deep, wide river. 

Washington realized the position the moment of the 
retreat from the passes, and immediately took measures 
to guard against further disaster. Satisfied that Howe 



208 CAMPAIGN OF I//6. 

had his whole force with him, and that an attack was not 
to be apprehended at any other point, he ordered for- 
ward more troops to replace his losses and strengthen the 
lines. Mifflin brought down from Harlem Heights the 
two well-drilled Pennsylvania regiments under Colonels 
Magaw and Shee, with some others ; and Glover's Massa- 
chusetts was sent on from Fellows' brigade. These all 
crossed to Long Island early on the morning of the 28th. 
At the same time, the afternoon of the 27th, Washington 
sent word to General Mercer in New Jersey to march all 
the forces under his command " immediately to Powle's 
Hook ;' they might be needed in New York, they might 
be needed on Long Island. By the morning of the 28th, 
the commander-in-chief had drawn to the Brooklyn lines 
all the troops that could be spared from other points, and 
all with which he proposed to resist the British if they at- 
tempted to carry his position by storm. He had on that 
side the largest and best part of his army. The whole 
of Greene's division was there, the whole of Spencer's, 
half of Sullivan's, one third of Putnam's, and a part of 
Heath's — in all not less than thirty-five regiments or de- 
tachments, which numbered together something over 
nine thousand five hundred men fit for duty." 

1 This order was sent at two o'clock through General Wooster, then tem- 
porarily in New York, and Mercer received it in the evening near Newark. 
He sent word at once to the militia at Amboy, Woodbridge, and Elizabeth- 
town to march to Powle's Hook. Force, 5th Series, vol. ii. 

8 A close analysis of the returns of September 12th, estimating all additions 
or reductions which should be made since the battle, shows that this was 
about the number on Long Island at this date and at the time of the 
retreat. The brigades now there were Nixon's, Heard's, Parson's, Wads- 
worth's, Stirling's, Scott's, two regiments of Mifflin's, one at least of Mc- 
Dougall's (Webb's), Glover's, and Fellows', the Long Island militia, artillery, 
rangers, and several independent companies. We know at what part of the 
lines some of these troops were posted. Greene's four old regiments doubt- 
less occupied the forts. Varnum was at Red Hook ; Little at Fort Greene ; 


Had all things been relatively equal, the Americans 
within the lines, according- to military experience, should 
have been well able to hold that front. But there was 
a total inequality of conditions. The enemy were thor- 
oughly equipped, disciplined, and provided for. They 
were an army of professional soldiers, superior to any that 
could be brought against them the world over. Thus far 
they had carried everything before them, and were eager 
to achieve still greater victories. Behind the Brooklyn 
works stood a poorly armed, badly officered, and for the 
most part untrained mass of men, hurriedly gathered into 
the semblance of an army. The events of the previous 
day, moreover, had greatly depressed their spirits. Not 
a few of those who had been engaged in or witnessed the 
battle were badly demoralized. To make matters worse, 
the very elements seemed to combine against them. The 
two days they were still to remain on the island were 
days of " extraordinary wet." It rained almost continu- 
ously, and much of the time heavily. No fact is better 
attested than this. August 28th, writes Colonel Little, 
" weather very rainy ;" " 29th, very rainy." Major Tall- 
madge speaks of the fatigue as having been aggravated by 


Hitchcock at Fort Putnam, and Hand with him there and in the redoubt on the 
left. Forman's New Jersey had been at Fort Box. Three of Scott's battal- 
lions were assigned to the centre, where the breastworks crossed the Jamaica 
Road. Magaw, Shcc.-and Glover guarded the line from Fort Putnam to the 
Wallabout ; Silliman was at the " northern part" of the works, probably 
on the right of Fort Putnam ; Gay's was between Fort Pox and the Marsh ; 
Douglas watched the extreme ri^ht in the woods at the mouth of Gowanus 
Creek ; and there was a " reserve," which perhaps included among others the 
remnants of Stirling's shattered brigade. Encircling them a mile or a mile 
and a half distant in the edge of the woods, lay the Hritish army with tents 
already pitched in many places. North and south of the Jamaica Road, just 
below Pedford, was Howe's main column ; within and west of Prospect Park 
were the Hessians ; and on the right, Grant's division bivouacked alonjj the 
Gowanus Road. 


the " heavy rain." " The heavy rain which fell two days 
and nights without intermission, etc.," said the council 
which voted to retreat. Pastor Shewkirk in his diary 
notes the weather particularly : " Wednesday 28th," he 
writes, . . . " in the afternoon we had extraordinary heavy 
rains and thunder." The flashes of the cannons were 
intermixed with flashes of lightning. On the 29th, "in 
the afternoon, such heavy rain fell again as can hardly 
be remembered." To all this deluge our soldiers were 
exposed with but little shelter. Necessity required that 
they should be at the lines, and constantly on the watch, 
ready to repel any attempt to storm them. When they 
lay down in the trenches at brief intervals for rest, they 
kept their arms from the wet as they could. Cooking 
was out of the question, and the men were compelled to 
take up with the unaccustomed fare of hard biscuits and 
raw pork. Their wretched plight is referred to in more 
than one of the letters of the clay. Writes General Scott : 
" You may judge of our situation, subject to almost inces- 
sant rains, without baggage or tents, and almost without 
victuals or drink, and in some part of the lines the men 
were standing up to their middles in water." Captain 
Olney puts it on record that " the rain fell in such tor- 
rents that the water was soon ankle deep in the fort. 
Yet with all these inconveniences, and a powerful enemy 
just without musket-snot, our men could not be kept 
awake." Captain Graydon, of Slice's Pennsylvanians, 
says in his well-known "Memoirs:" "We had no tents 
to screen us from the pitiless pelting, nor, if we had them, 
would it have comported with the incessant vigilance 
required to have availed ourselves of them, as, in fact, it 
might be said that we lay upon our arms during the 
whole of our stay upon the island. In the article of food 



we were little better off." Under the circumstances 
could Washington's force have withstood the shock of a 
deteimincd assault by the enemy ? 

In spite, however, of weather, hunger* and fatigue," 
there was many a brave man in the American camp 
who kept up heart and obeyed all orders with spirit. 
One thing is certain, the British were not permitted 
to suspect the distressed condition of our army. Our 
pickets and riflemen, thrown out in front of the 
works, put on a bold face. On the 28th there was skir- 
mishing the greater part of the day, and in the even- 
ing, as Washington reports, "it was pretty smart." 
Writing from the trenches on the 29th, Colonel Silliman 
says : " Our enemy have encamped in plain sight of our 
camp at the distance of about a mile and a half. We 
have had no general engagement yet, but no day passes 
without some smart and hot skirmishes between different 
parties, in which the success is sometimes one way and 
sometimes another. We are in constant expectation of a 
general battle ; no one can be here long without getting 
pretty well acquainted with the whistling of cannon and 
musket shot." Scarcely any particulars of these en- 
counters' are preserved, though one of them, at least, 

1 In vol. ii. of the L. I. Hist. Society's " Memoirs," the author, Mr. 
Field, devotes pages 254-258 to the skirmishing of some Connecticut soldiers 
on the extreme right on the other side of Gowanus Creek, which appears to 
him to have been rash and foolhardy, and strangely in contrast with what 
also appears to him to have been an exhibition of cowardice on their part 
the day before. The narrative from which the incidents arc taken (Martin's) 
shows no such singular inconsistency in the conduct of these men. This 
was Colonel Douglas' regiment, and, as Martin himself says, it moved 
promptly under orders from the ferry to the right to cover Stirling's retreat. 
" Our officers," he writes, " pressed forward towards a creek, where a large 
party of Americans and British were engaged." They very properly did 
not halt to help a company of artillerymen drag their pieces along. The 
skirmish on the following day was nothing remarkable in its way. It was 

212 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

appears to have been quite an important affair. The 
fcnemy had determined to approach the lines by regular 
siege rather than hazard an assault, and late in the after- 
noon of the 28th they advanced in some force to break 
ground for the first parallel. The point selected was 
doubtless the high ground between Vanderbilt and Clin- 
ton avenues, on the line of De Kalb. As to what oc- 
curred we have but the briefest account, and that is from 
the pen of Colonel Little. " On the morning of the 28th," 
he writes, " the enemy were encamped on the heights in 
front of our encampment. Firing was kept up on both 
sides from the right to the left. Firing on both sides in 
front of Fort Putnam. About sunset the enemy pushed 
to recover the ground we had taken (about 100 
rods) in front of the fort. The fire was very hot ; the 
enemy gave way, and our people recovered the ground. 
The firing ceased, and our people retired to the fort. The 
enemy took possession again, and on the morning of the 
30th [29th] had a breastwork there 60 rods long and 
1 50 rods distant from Fort Putnam." It was this move 
of the British, more than any incident since the battle, 
that determined Washington's future course. 

During all these trying hours since the defeat on the 
27th, the most conspicuous figure to be seen, now at one 
point and now at another of the threatened lines, was that 
of the commander-in-chief. Wherever his inspiring pres- 
ence seemed necessary, there he was to be found. Me 
cheered the troops night and day. All that the soldiers 
endured, he endured. For forty-eight hours, or the 
whole of the 28th and 29th, he took no rest whatever, and 

just such brushes as the men engaged in that Washington, on Graydon's au- 
thority, encouraged. The regiment displayed no particular rashness on the 
28th, nor any cowardice on the 27th — that is, if Martin is to he credited. 


was hardly once off his horse. As he rode among the 
men in the storm he spoke to some in person, and every- 
where he gave directions, while his aids were as tireless 
as their Chief in assisting him. 

But circumstanced as the army was, it was inevitable 
that the question should come up: Can the defence of 
the Brooklyn front be continued without great hazard ? 
It could not have escaped the notice of a single soldier 
on that side, that if, with the river in their rear, the 
enemy should succeed in penetrating the lines, or the 
fleet be able to command the crossing, they would all be 
lost. There was no safety but in retreat ; and for twenty- 
four hours from the morning of the 29th, all the energies 
of the commander-in-chief were directed towards mak- 
ing the retreat successful. 

To few incidents of the Revolution does greater inter- 
est attach than to this final scene in the operations on 
Long Island. The formal decision to abandon this point 
was made by a council of war, held late in the day of the 
29th, at the house of Phillip Livingston, then absent as 
a member of the Continental Congress at Philadelphia. 
The mansion made historic by this event stood on the 
line of Hicks Street, just south of Joralcmon. 1 There 
were present at the council, the commander-in-chief, 
Major-Gcncrals Putnam and Spencer, and Brigadier- 
Generals Mifflin, McDougall, Parsons, Scott, Wadsworth, 
and Fellows. As far as known, Scott alone of these gen- 
erals has left us any thing in regard to what transpired 
on the occasion beyond the final result. He preserves 
the interesting fact that when the proposition to retreat 
was presented it took him by surprise and he as sud- 

1 Sec Document 6, in which General Scott says : " I was summoned to a 
council of war at Mr. Phillip Livingston's house on Thursday, 29th ult., etc." 

214 CAMPAIGN OF 1776. 

dcnly objected to it, "from an" aversion to giving the 
enemy a single inch of ground." It was the soil of his 
own State. As a member of the New York Convention 
and of the Committee of Safety, and now as a general 
officer, he had spent months in uninterrupted prepara- 
tions to defend that soil, and on the first impulse of the 
moment the thought of yielding any more of it to the 
invaders was not to be entertained. But he was soon 
"convinced by unanswerable reasons," and the vote of 
the council was unanimous for retreat. Eight separate 
reasons were embodied in the decision. First. A defeat 
had been sustained on the 27th, and the woods lost where 
it was proposed to make " a principal stand." Second. 
The loss in officers and men had occasioned great con- 
fusion and discouragement among the troops. Third. 
The rain had injured the arms and much of the ammuni- 
tion, and the soldiers were so worn out, that it was feared 
that they could not be kept at the lines by any order. 
Fourth. The enemy appeared to be endeavoring to get 
their ships into the East River to cut off communication 
with New York, but the wind as yet had not served 
them. Fifth. There were no obstructions sunk in the 
Channel between Long and Governor's Island, and the 
council was assured by General McDougall, " from his 
own nautic experience," that small ships could sail up 
by that channel; the hulks,' also, sunk between Gover- 
nor's Island and the Battery were regarded as insufficient 
obstructions for that passage. Sixth. Though the lines 
were fortified by several strong redoubts, the breastworks 
were weak, being " ahattiscd with brush" only in some 
places, and the enemy might break through them. 
Si truth. The divided state of the army made a defence 
precarious. Highlit, Several British men-of-war had 


worked their way into Flushing Bay from the Sound, 
and with their assistance the enemy could cross a force 
to the mainland in Westchester County, and gain the 
American rear in the vicinity of King's Bridge. In view 
of these considerations a retreat was considered impera- 

This was the official record of the council's action as 
afterwards transmitted to Congress. It is not to be in- 
ferred, however, that retreat was not thought of, or that 
nothing was done to effect it until the council met. That 
Washington had foreseen the necessity of the move, that 
he discussed it with others, and that he had already be- 
gun the necessary preparations, is obvious both from the 
record and from all that occurred during the day. The 
council did no more than to coincide in his views and 
confirm his judgment.' 

' OuidlN or 1 Ml'. Rki kkat. — Precisely when and why Washington came to 
A determination In his own mind to retreat has been made the subject of a 
nomcwhnt nice historical inquiry. Gordon gives one story ; Mr. William B. 
Kccd, biographer of Colonel Reed, gives another ; and Mr. Bancroft, General 
Carriiif.ion, and others indulge in more or less extended criticisms on the 
point. Gordon's account is the most probable and the best supported. 

Whatever Washington may have thought of the situation on Long Island 
after the defeat, it is enough to know that he immediately reinforced himself 
there, and that on the 27th and 28th he made no preparations to withdraw to 
New York. It far from follows, however, that he had concluded to stay and 
fi^ht it out " on that line" at all hazards. He was acting on the defensive, 
and was necessarily obliged to guide himself largely by the movements of the 
enemy. On Long Island, therefore, he could only be on the watch, and, like 
a prudent general, decide according to circumstances. Up to the morning 
of the 29th he was still watching — watching not only the enemy, but his own 
army also. In his letter to Congress, written at " half after 4 o'clock 
a.m." of this date, he gives no intimation of a retreat, but rather leaves that 
body to infer that he proposed to remain where he was. lie speaks, for in- 
stance, of expecting tents during the day to make the troops more comfort- 
able. On the same morning Reed wrote : " We hope to be able to make 
a good stand, as our lines are pretty strong ;" and he doubtless rcllectcd the 
views of his Chief at the time. 

The two particular dangers now to which the army was exposed were the 

2l6 CAMPAIGN OF 1 7/6. 

The first thing necessary was to provide all the trans- 
portation available in order to accomplish the retreat in 
the shortest time possible after beginning it. There were 

danger of having its communication with New York cut off by the ships, and 
the danger of being approached by the enemy in front by siege operations, 
which the army was not prepared to meet. The first danger had existed ever 
since the arrival of the enemy, and hud been provided for. All the batteries 
on Governor's Island and on both sides of the East River had been built to 
guard against it. In addition, ships had been sunk in the channel. Wash- 
ington accordingly must have thoroughly canvassed the risks he ran in re- 
gard to his communications. These alone had not decided him to retreat. On 
the morning of the 29th, however, he first became aware of the second dan- 
ger. It was not until then that the enemy fully developed their intention of 
advancing by trenches. After working all night, as Howe reports, they had 
thrown up by morning, as Little reports, a parallel sixty rods long and one 
hundred and fifty rods distant from Fort Putnam. Reed wrote, " They are 
intrenching at a small distance." In twenty-four hours at the farthest they 
would have come within very close range, and the hazardous alternative 
would have been forced upon us to attempt to drive them out of their own 
works. Washington well knew that, in view of the condition of his men and 
the great disparity of numbers, this could not be done. When, therefore, 
he became assured of Howe's intentions he acted promptly — he determined to 
retreat ; and this determination he reached early on the morning of the 29th. 

This is substantially the theory which Gordon presents as a fact, and 
it is most consistent with fact. Gordon's account is this : " The victorious 
army encamped in the front of the American works in the evening ; and 
on the 28th at night broke ground in form about 4 or 500 yards distant 
from a redoubt which covered the left of the Americans. The same day 
Gen. Mifflin crossed over from New York with iooo men ; at night he 
made an offer to Gen. Washington of going the rounds, which was accepted. 
He observed the approaches of the enemy, and the forwardness of their bat- 
teries ; and was convinced that no time was to be lost. The next morning he 
conversed with the General upon the subject, and said, ' You must either 
fight or retreat immediately. What is your strength ? ' The General an- 
swered, ' Nine thousand.' The other replied, ' It is not sufficient, we must 
therefore retreat.' They were both agreed as to the calling of a Council of 
war ; and Gen. Mifflin was to propose a retreat. Hut as he was to make 
that proposal, lest his own character should 'suffer, he stipulated, that if a re- 
treat should be agreed upon, he would command the rear ; and if an action 
the van." 

The fact that Mifflin was given the command of the rear on the retreat, and 
the fact that he sent the order to Heath that morning to send down all the boats 
from King's Bridge, lend the highest probability to Gordon's version of the 
story. Parsons, who was one of the members of the council, mentions this par- 
ticularly as one of the reasons for withdrawing, namely, that the enemy were 


boats at the Brooklyn ferry and across at New York, but 
these were too few for the purpose. Accordingly, on the 
forenoon of the 29th, Washington sent an order through 

" not disposed to storm our lines, but set down to make regular approaches 
to us." Reed also puts as much stress on this point as any other. Giving the 
reasons for the retreat to Governor Livingston, he said : " The enemy at the 
same time possessed themselves of a piece of ground very advantageous 
and which they had [fortified]. Wc were therefore reduced to the alternative 
of retiring to this place or going out with [troops] to drive them off." Wash- 
ington, too, is to be quoted. It. his letter to Trumbull, September 6th, be 
writes : " As the main body of the enemy had encamped not farfrom 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." 

William B. Reed's account (Reed's Life of Reed) is to the effect, briefly, that 
a heavy fog settled over Long Island on the 29th, and that during the day Col- 
onel Reed, Colonel Grayson, and General Mifflin rode to Red Hook inspect- 
ing the lines. While at the Hook, " a shift of wind" cleared the fog from the 
harbor, enabling the officers to catch a glimpse of the fleet at the Narrows. 
From certain movements of boats they inferred that the ships would sail up 
with the favorable breeze if it held until the tide turned and the fog cleared 
off. They immediately hurried to Washington, informed him of the impend- 
ing danger, and induced him to call a council and order a retreat. Mr. Ban- 
croft, however, has shown very thoroughly that this account cannot be ac- 
/ ccptcd, because the fog did not come up until the morning of the 30th, and no 
change of wind occurred. Colonel Reed himself says in the Livingston letter, 
written only the next morning, that the enemy's fleet were attempting every 
day to get up to town with " the wind a/n-ad" — thus directly contradicting his 
biographer. The Reed account has several errors of detail, one being the 
statement that the Red Hook battery had been badly damaged by the guns 
of the Roebuck on the 27th. It would be nearer the truth to say that it was 
not hit at all. The fleet could do nothing that day ; as Admiral Howe re- 
ports, the Roebuck was " the only ship that could fetch high enough to the 
northward to exchange a /no random shot with the battery on Red Hook." 

In a word, Washington, after receiving Mifflin's report in regard to the ap- 
proaches of the enemy, and probably other reports from Grayson, Reed, and 
others in regard to the general condition of the troops (for instance, Colonel 
Shec's uneasiness, referred to by Graydon), found that the moment had come 
for decision. That decision was to retreat that night ; and during the fore- 
noon, several hours before the council met, he issued secret orders for the 
concentration of boats at the ferry, as described in the text. 



Milllin to General I Tenth at King's Bridge to the follow- 
ing elTeet : 

Long [Island, August 29 ,h , 1776. 
Pi ar Gknkral — We have many battalions from New Jersey 
which are coming over to relieve others here. You will please 
therefore to order every flat bottomed boat and other craft at 
your post, fit for transporting troops, down to New York as soon 
as possible: They must be manned by some of Colonel Hutch- 
inson's men and sent without the least delay. I write by order of 
the General. I am Affectionately Yours 


At about the same time, Colonel Trumbull, the com- 
missary-general, was directed to carry a verbal order to 
Assistant Quartermaster Hughes at New York, " to im- 
press every kind of water craft from Hell Gate on the 
Sound to Spuyten Duy vil Creek that could be kept afloat 
and that had cither sails or oars, and have them all in the 
east harbor of the City by dark." 1 These two orders 
were carried out with great energy, promptness, and se- 
crecy by all who had any part in their execution. Heath 
" immediately complied " with what Mifflin had written, 
and sent down all his boats under Hutchinson's men from 
Salem, who, like Glover's from Marblehead, were, many 
of them, the best of sailors. He brooked the less delay, 
perhaps, because he saw at once that Washington's " real 
intention" was, not to be reinforced from New Jersey, 
but to retreat from Long Island.' Hughes, on his part, 
was untiring, and rendered the greatest service. He 
would have been mistaken this day rather for the master 
of a military school, than for what he had been — the mas- 
ter of a classical one. For twenty-two hours, as his 

1 Memorial of Colonel Hugh Hughes. Leake's Life of General Lamb. 
'•' I leath's Memoirs. 


biographer tells us, he never dismounted from his horse, 
but superintended the collection of the vessels from all 
points, and at evening had them ready for their purpose.' 
The final withdrawal of the troops from the lines was 
effected under the cover of a plausible general order, 
which was the only one known to have been issued by 
the commander-in-chief while on Long Island.* This 
order now comes to light for the first time, and is im- 
portant as serving to correct the improbable though stan- 

1 There is an interesting letter of Washington's preserved in the Hughes 
1 Memorial, which adds light on this point. Eight years after the event, 
when Hughes needed some official certificate showing his authority to im- 
press all the craft he could find, the general replied to him as follows : 

" My memory is not charged with the particulars of the verbal order which 
you say was delivered to you through Col. Joseph Trumbull, on the 27th, Au- 
gust, 1776, ' for impressing all the sloops, boats, and water craft from Spyh- 
ten Duyvcl, in the Hudson, to Hell Gate, in the Sound.' I recollect that it 
was a day which required the utmost exertion, particularly in the Quarter-Mas- 
ter's department, to accomplish the retreat which was intended, undercover 
of the succeeding night ; and that no delay or ceremony could be admitted 
in the execution of the plan. I have no doubt, therefore, of your having re- 
ceived orders to the effect, and to the extent which you have mentioned ; and 
you are at liberty to adduce this in testimony thereof. It will, I presume, 
supply the place of a more formal certificate, and is more consonant with my 
recollection of the transactions of that day." It appears from this that 
Washington remembered that the entire day of the 29th was devoted to plan- 
ning and preparing for the retreat, and this fits the theory advanced in the 
note on the " Origin of the Retreat." As to the delivery of the orders about 
boats, it is probable that Trumbull crossed to New York with Mifflin's letter 
to Heath and gave it to Hughes to forward. At the same time he gave 
Hughes his instructions verbally. Hughes received them, says his biogra- 
pher, about noon, lie then had eight hours to carry them out, which gave 
him time to send to Heath and for Heath to comply, while he and his 
assistants scoured the coast everywhere else for boats, from Hell Gate 
down. Among other sloops impressed was the Middlesex, Captain Ste- 
phen Hogcboom, while on its way to Clavcrack. " I was prevented from 
proceeding," says the captain, " by Coll Wardsworth and Commissary 
Hughes who ordered your memorialist over with the sloop to Long Island 
ferry where she was used to carry off the Troops and stores after the unfortu- 
nate retreat, &c." — JV. Y. Ilisl. M.S., vol. i., p. 620. 

^ Document 3. "General Orders. Head-Quarters Long Island, Aug. 
29, 1776. Parole, Sullivan, Countersign, Greene." — Col. Douglas' Order 


220 CAMl'AION OK I//6. 

dard theory (hat (he regiments were moved from their 
posts under the impression that the)' were to make a night 
attack upon the enemy.' The order as actually given was 
far more rational, and less likely to excite suspicion as to 
its true intent. In the first place, the sick, " being an en- 
cumbrance to the army " were directed to be sent to the 
hospital, their arms and accoutrements taken with them, 
and from there to be conveyed across to New York and 
reported to Surgeon-General Morgan. In the next place, 
the order announced that troops under General Mercer 
were expected that afternoon from New Jersey, with 
whom it was proposed to relieve a proportionate number 
of the regiments on Long Island, and " make a change in 
the situation of them." In view of the distressed condi- 
tion of most of the troops at the lines, the propriety of 
such a "change" was obvious; and in all probability 
Washington did originally intend to make the relief. And 
last, as it was apparently undecided what regiments were 
to be relieved, they were all, or the greater part of them, 
directed " to parade with their arms, accoutrements, 
and knapsacks, at 7 o'clock, at the head of their en- 
campments and there wait for orders." On the evening 
of the 29th, accordingly, we find the troops ready at 
their camps and the lines to march off at a moment's 
notice, and all prepared for a retreat by the most natural 
arrangement that could have been devised to conceal the 
real design. 3 

1 All our principal accounts follow Graydon, who states that the order to 
attack the enemy was given " rcgimentally." Colonel Hand, in his letter 
describing the night's incidents (Reed's Life of Reed), makes no allusion to 
such an order, but on the contrary states that he and the other colonels of 
the covering party were told that they were to retreat. An order to attack 
would have been a poor disguise for a retreat, for every man must have felt 
its utter rashness and at once suspected some other move. 

• A letter from Tilghman, Washington's aid, shows that the troops re- 


At dark, the withdrawal began. As one regiment 
moved away towards the ferry another would have its 
situation "changed" to fill the gap, or extended from 
right to left. Every move at first was conducted busily, 
yet quietly and without confusion. Colonel Little, re- 
ferring to his part this night, leaves the simple record 
that the general ordered each regiment to be paraded 
on their own parades at seven o'clock P.M., and wait for 
orders. "We received orders," he says, " to strike our 
tents and march, with our baggage, to New York." Col- 
onel Douglas writes : " 1 received orders to call in my 
guard all, and march immediately with the utmost si- 
lence." Hitchcock's Rhode Islanders carried their bag- 
gage and camp equipage to the boats on their shoulders 
" through mud and mire and not a ray of light visible." 
The embarkation was made from the ferry — the present 
Fulton Ferry — where General McDougall superintended 
the movements. Between seven and eight o'clock the 
boats were manned by Glover's and Hutchinson's men, 
and they went to work with sailor-like cheer and de- 
spatch. The militia and levies were the first to cross, 
though there was some* vexing delay in getting them off. 
Unluckily, too, about nine o'clock the adverse wind and 
tide and pouring rain began to make the navigation of the 
river difficult. A north-caster sprang up, and Glover's 
men could do nothing with the sloops and sail-boats. If 
the row-boats only were to be depended upon, all the 
troops could not "be ferried over before morning. Dis- 
couraged at the prospect, McDougall sent Colonel Gray- 

ceived the impression that they wen: to he relieved. The retreat, he says, 
" was conducted with so much Secrecy that neither Subalterns or privates 
knew that the whole army was to cross hack again to N. York ; they 
thought only a few regiments were to go hack." — Document 29. 


22.? CAMPAIGN OF I//6. 

son, of Washington's staff, to inform the general as to 
how matters stood, but unable to find him Grayson re- 
turned, and McDougall'went on with the embarkation in 
spite of its difficulties. Most fortunately, however, at 
eleven o'clock there was another and a favorable change 
in the weather. The north-east wind died away, and soon 
after a gentle breeze set in from the south-west, of which 
the sailors took quick advantage, and the passage was 
now "direct, easy, and expeditious. " The troops were 
pushed across as fast as possible in every variety of craft 
— row-boats, flat-boats, whale-boats, pcttiaugers, sloops, 
and sail-boats — some of which were loaded to within 
three inches of the water, which was "as smooth as 

Meanwhile nearly a fatal blunder occurred at the 
lines. Early in the evening, a force had been selected, 
consisting of Hand's, Small wood's, Haslet's, Shee's, Ma- 
gaw's, and Chester's regiments, to remain at the works 
to the last and cover the retreat. General Mifflin com- 
manded the party. Small wood's men were stationed in 
Fort Putnam, part of Hand's under Captain Miller in the 
redoubt on the left, and the rcst-at the lines on the right 
of the main road ; and the other regiments near them. 
Brooklyn Church was to be the alarm-post, where the cov- 
ering party was to concentrate in case the enemy attacked 
during the night. About two o'clock in the morning, 
Major Scammcll, one of Sullivan's aids now serving with 
Washington, mistook his orders and smarted Mifflin's en- 
tire command for the ierr}\ All the regiments had left 
the lines and were marching down the main road, when 
Washington, who seemed to be everywhere during the 
night, met them and exclaimed in astonishment that un- 
less the lines were immediately re-manned " the most dis- 


BRIGADIER Oi'll IF i\!\\ . \ r • 


agreeable consequences" might follow, as every thing then 
was in confusion at the ferry. Mifflin's party promptly 
faced about and reoccupicd their stations until dawn, 
when Providence again " interposed in favor of the 
retreating army." J\) have attempted to withdraw in 
clear daylight would have been a hazardous experiment 
for these regiments, but just before dawn a heavy fog be- 
gan to settle over Long Island, and the covering party 
was safe. So dense was this " heavenly messenger," as 
Gordon happily describes it, that it effectually hid the 
American lines from the British pickets. When the final 
order, therefore, came about sunrise for Mifflin's men to 
retire to the ferry, they were enabled to do so under 
cover of the fog without exciting any suspicion of their 
movements in the enemy's camp. 1 " We kept up fires, 

1 Mr. Reed, the biographer, states that the fog rose on the 29th. Dr. 
Stiles, in his " History of Brooklyn," says : " At midnight a dense fog 
arose, which remained motionless and impenetrable over the island during 
the whole of the next day [the 29th]." "A dense fog," writes Mr. Field, 
" hung over the island and river, when the morning of the 29th dawned." 
Now nothing is more certain than that the fog did not rise until shortly be- 
fore dawn of the 30th, full six hours after the retreat had begun. The 28th 
and 29th, as already seen, were days of rain-storms, not mist, nor fog, but 
storm, " torrents," such rain at times the like of which could " hardly be 
remembered." Contemporary writers who mention the rains say nothing of 
fog on the 29th, whereas they do notice its appearance the next morning. 
Major Tallmadge writes : " As the dawn of the next day approached, those 
of us who remained in the trenches became very anxious for our own safety, 
and when the dawn appeared, there were several regiments still on duty. At 
this time a very dense fog began to rise, and it seemed to settle in a pecul- 
iar manner over both encampments. I recollect this peculiar providential 
occurrence perfectly well ; and so very dense was the atmosphere that I could 
scarcely discern a man at six yards' distance." This officer's regiment was 
one of the covering party, and he adds that after leaving the lines by mistake, 
and receiving orders to return, " Col. Chester immediately faced to the right 
about and returned, where we tarried until the sun had risen, but the fog 
remained as dense as ever." " At sunrise a great fog came up," says a spec- 
tator (Stiles' MS. Diary). An officer or soldier of either Shce's or Magaw's 
regiment, also of the covering party, wrote a few hours after crossing : " We 
received orders to quit our station about two o'clock this morning, and had 
made our retreat almost to 'the ferry when Gen. Washington ordered us 

224 CAMPAIGN OF 1776. 

with outposts stationed," says Licutcnant-Coloncl Cham- 
bers, " until all the rest were over. We left the lines 
after it was fair day and then canjc off." As our soldiers 
withdrew they distinctly heard the sound of pickaxe and 
shovel at the British works.' Before seven o'clock the 
entire force had crossed to New York, and among the 
last to leave was the commander-in-chief. " General 
Washington," adds Chambers, " saw the last over him- 

By the army the retreat was welcomed as a great 
relief, a salvation from probable calamity. Not a few 
appreciated its completeness and success as a strictly 
military move. "This evacuation," writes one, "is a 
masterpiece. " " That grand retreat from the Island which 
will ever reflect honour to our Generals," says another. 
" Considering the difficulties," is Greene's criticism, " it 
was the best effected retreat I ever read or heard of." 
"It was executed," says Scott, " with unexpected suc- 
cess." But in the country at large it was generally asso- 
ciated with the defeat of the 27th, and the skilfulness 
with which it was conducted little compensated for the 
fact that the retreat was forced upon us. 

back to that part of the lines we were first at, which was reckoned to be the 
most dangerous post. We got back undiscovered by the enemy, and contin- 
ued there until daylight. 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." — Force, 5th Scries, vol. i., p. 1233. So also, 
Stcdman, the British historian, referring to the events of the night of the 
29th-30th, says : "Another remarkable circumstance was, that on Long 
Island hung a thick fog, which prevented the British troops from discovering 
the operations of the enemy." Washington did not, as often stated in popu- 
lar accounts, take advantage of a fog to cover his retreat. More than half the 
army was over before the fog appeared ; but it protected the covering party, 
and saved us the loss of considerable baggage and other material. 

1 An English patrol under Captain Montressor discovered the retreat of the 
Americans very soon after the latter left the lines, and reported the fact at 
once. Hut for some unexplained reason pursuit was delayed until too late. 
One boat with four stragglers was taken by the enemy. 




Long Island surrendered, could New York be held ? 
Columbia Heights, where Fort Stirling stood, had been 
regarded by Lee as the " capital point," the key of the 
position. Greene called the Brooklyn front " the pass, "" 
on the possession of which depended the security of the 
city. Both pass and heights were now in the enemy's- 
hands, and New York was at their mercy. " We are in 
hourly expectation," wrote Commissary Trumbull, Sep- 
tember ist, "that the town will be bombarded." Lieuten- 
ant Jasper Ewing, of Hand's riflemen, saw that the Brit- 
ish could reduce the place to " a heap of ashes" in a 
\ day's time. Colonel Douglas looked for an immediate 
\ cannonade from Fort Stirling, " which," he says, " I have 
j the mortification to think I helped build myself." But 
' the enemy kept their guns quiet, as they wished neither 
to injure the city nor drive our army away. They 
contented themselves at first with stretching their troops 
along the water front from Red Hook to Hell Gate, New- 
town, and Flushing on Long Island, and threatening to 
land at any point on Manhattan Island from the Battery 
to Harlem, or beyond on the Westchester shore. 

As for Washington, the successful retreat had not in 

226 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

the least relieved him from care or anxiety. He had 
escaped one trap : it was of the utmost consequence now 
to see that he did not fall into another. What he feared 
most was a sudden move upon his rear in Westchester 
County, for in that case he would be hopelessly hemmed 
in on Manhattan Island. " The enemy," continued 
Trumbull on the 1st, " arc drawing their men to the cast- 
ward on Long Island, as if they intended to throw a 
strong party over on this island, near Hell Gate, so as 
to get on the back of the city. We are preparing to 
meet them." Haslet wrote August 31st : " I expect every 
moment orders to march off to Kingsbridge to prevent 
the encrny crossing the East River and confining us on 
another nook. . . If they can coop us up in N. York by 
intrenching from river to river, horrid will be the con- 
sequences from their command of the rivers." General 
Heath pressed the matter of watching the Westchester 
coast, and Washington, concurring with him "as to the 
probability of the enemy's endeavoring to lai.a their forces 
at Hunt's Point," above Hell Gate, wrote him on the 31st : 
" In order to prevent such an attempt from being car- 
ried into execution I have sent up General Mifflin with 
the troops he brought from your quarters, strengthened 
by reinforcements. With this assistance I hope you will 
be able to defeat their intentions. I beg you will exert 
yourself to. the utmost of your abilities on this momentous 
occasion." Several days passing without any demonstra- 
tion by the enemy, Washington's suspense was only pro- 
tracted, and on September 5th he wrote again to Heath 
as follows : 

" As everything in a manner depends upon obtaining intelli- 
gence of the enemy's motions, I do most earnestly entreat you and 
General Clinton to exert yourselves to accomplish this most desir- 



able end. Leave no stone unturned, nor do not stick at expense 
to bring this to pass, as I never was more uneasy than on account 
of my want of knowledge on this score. 

" Keep, besides this precaution, constant lookouts (with good 
glasses) on some commanding heights that look well on to the 
other shore (and especially into the bays, where boats can be con- 
cealed), that they may observe, more particularly in the evening, 
if there be any uncommon movements. Much will depend upon 
early intelligence, and meeting the enemy before they can in- 
trench. I should much approve of small harassing parties, steal- 
ing, as it were, over in the night, as they might keep the enemy 
alarmed, and more than probably bring off a prisoner, from whom 
some valuable intelligence may be obtained." ' 

To add to his burdens, the commander-in-chief found 
the condition of his army growing worse instead of im- 
proving. The experiences on Long Island had disheart- 
ened many of the troops, and their escape had not re- 
vived their spirits." The militia became impatient and 
went home in groups and whole companies, and indeed 
in such numbers as to materially diminish the strength of 
the army. To restore order and confidence, Washington 
exerted himself to the utmost. Tilghman, one of his aids, 
speaks of " the vast hurry of business" in which the gen- 
eral was engaged at this time. " He is obliged," he 
writes, "to sec into, and in a manner fill every depart- 
ment, which is too much for one man." To Rodnev, 
Haslet wrote : "I fear Gen 1 Washington has too 

1 " The Heath Correspondence," ^tass. Hist. Soc. Coll., 1878. , 
5 Pastor Shewkirk notes in his diary that immediately after the retreat " a 
general damp" seemed to spread over the army. " The merry tones on 
drums and fifes had ceased, and they were hardly heard for a couple of 
days." The wet clothes, accoutrements, and tents were lyinjj alx>ut in front 
of the houses and in the streets, and every tiling was in confusion. Hut this 
was to be expected. General Scott, referring evidently to expressions heard 
among his own men, says that some declared that they had been " sold out," 
and others longed to have Lee back from the South. — Scott's MS. Letter, Sep- 
tember 6th, 1776. 


22S CAMPAIGN OF \/j6. 

heavy a task, assisted mostly by beardless boys."' But 
fortunately for the country the general's shoulders were 
broad enough for these great duues, and his faith and 
resolution remained unshaken. 

As soon as possible the army was reorganized and sta- 
tioned to meet the new phase of the situation. Several 
changes were made in the brigades, and the whole divided 
into three grand divisions, under Putnam, Spencer/and 
Heath. Putnam's, consisting of five brigades, remained 
in the city and guarded the East River above as far as 
Fifteenth Street ; Spencer's, of six brigades, took up the 
line from that point to Horn's Hook and Harlem ; and 
Heath with two brigades watched King's Bridge and the 
Westchester shore. Greene had not sufficiently recov- 
ered from his illness, and his old troops, under Nixon and 
Heard, were temporarily doing duty with Spencer's com- 
mand. 3 This disposition was effected by the 2d of Sep- 
tember, and by it our army again occupied an extended 
line, endeavoring to protect every point on the cast side 
from the battery to King's Bridge, or the entire length of 
the island, a distance of fourteen and a half miles. 

The question of abandoning New York and all that 
part of the island below Harlem Heights was, mean- 
while, under consideration. The city would obviously be 
untenable under a bombardment, and the island equally 

1 Washington's aids were most of them quite young men. 

5 A large number of changes were made in the organization of the army after 
the retreat. The Connecticut militia were divided up and formed into brigades 
with the levies under General Wadsworth, Colonel Silliman, Colonel Doug- 
las, and Colonel Chester. A brigade was given also to Colonel Sargent, of 
Massachusetts. Putnam's division included Parsons', Scott's, James Clinton's 
(Glover's), Fellows', and Silliman's brigades ; Spencer's and Greene's di- 
visions included Nixon's, Heard's, McDougall's, Wadsworth's, Douglas', 
Chester's and Sargent's brigades ; while Heath had his former brigades, with 
a change of some regiments, under Mifflin and George Clinton. 


so if the British crossed into Westchester County. Yet 
Washington, strangely, \vc may say, expressed the con- 
viction that he could hold both provided his troops could 
be depended upon. 1 Among his generals, Greene ear- 
nestly opposed any such attempt, and advocated the evac- 
uation and destruction of the place. " The City and Island 
of New York," he wrote to his chief, September 5th, 
"are no objects for us; we are not to bring them into 
competition with the general interests of America. . . . 
The sacrifice of the vast property of New York and the 
suburbs, I hope has no influence on your Excellency's 
measures. Remember the King of France. When Charles 
the Fifth, Emperor of Germany, invaded his Kingdom, 
he laid whole Provinces waste ; and by that policy he 
starved and ruined Charles's army, and defeated him 
without fighting a battle. Two-thirds of the property of 
the City of New York and the suburbs belong to the 
tories. We have no very great reason to run any con- 
siderable risk for its defence. ... I would give it as 
my opinion that a general and speedy retreat is absolutely 
necessary, and that the honour and interest of America re- 
quire it. I would burn the city." John Jay before this 
also proposed its destruction. Scott urged abandonment 
of the place for sound military reasons, though the move 
would ruin him. Washington, however, on the 2d, pre- 
sented the whole question to Congress. Also convinced 
by the condition of the army, that the city must be evac- 
uated, he asked, " If we should be obliged to abandon 

1 " Till of late I had no doubt in my own mind of defending this place, 
nor should I have yet, if the men would do their duty, but this I despair of. 
It is painful, and extremely grating to me, to give such unfavorable accounts; 
but it would be ciiminal to conceal the truth at so critical a juncture." — 
Washington to Congress, September 2d, 1 776. 

250 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

the town, ought it to stand as winter quarters for the 
enemy?" Congress voted, in reply, that "it should in 
no event be damaged, for they '\ad no doubt of being able 
to recover it, even though the enemy should obtain 
possession of it for a time." On the 7th, a council of 
war, inferring that Congress wished the place to be held, 
decided to retain five thousand troops in the city and con- 
centrate the rest around and above Harlem ; but on the 
1 2th the matter was reconsidered, and a second council 
voted to evacuate the city and retire to Harlem Heights. 
The removal of stores and the sick had already com- 
menced ; and on the 14th, when the enemy appeared to 
be on the point of crossing from Montrcssor's, now Ran- 
dall's, Island to the mainland, all the teams and wagons 
that could be found were impressed by the quartermas- 
ters to remove the remaining stores. In one day more 
the removal would have been complete and the troops all 
withdrawn to the heights. In the evening of the 14th 
Washington left the city, and established his head-quar- 
ters at the Morris Mansion, at One Hundred and Sixty- 
first Street, overlooking Harlem River and the plains. 1 

The enemy made no advance from Long Island until 
more than two weeks after the battle. Howe's prepara- 
tions were delayed because dependent upon the co-opera- 
tion of the fleet. On the night of the 3d of September, 
the frigate Rose, of thirty-two guns, sailed up the East 

'Colonel Rccd, the adjutant-general, wrote to his wife, September 14th, from 
New York : " My baggage is all at King's bridge. We expect to remove thither 
this evening. I mean our headquarters." — Reed's Reed. Washington, writing 
of the events of the 15th, says : " I had gone the night before to the main 
body of the army which was posted on the plains and heights of Harlem." 
These references fail to confirm the common statement that Washington 
made the Murray House on Thirty-sixth Street his quarters for a short time 
after having the city. 


River convoying- thirty boats, and running through the 
fire of our guns at the Grand Battery, the ship-yards, 
and Corlcars Hook, anchored close into Wallabout Bay, 
where on the 5th our artillerists " briskly cannonaded " 
her. After dark on the 12th, thirty-six additional boats 
passed our batteries to Bushwick Creek, and the night 
after forty more followed. Then towards sunset on the 
14th, the frigates Roebuck, Phoenix, Orpheus, and Carys- 
fort, with six transports, joined the Rose without receiv- 
ing material injury from the heavy fire poured upon them 
by our gunners. 

On the following morning, the 15th, the British moved 
against Manhattan Island, and in the afternoon New York 
City fell into their possession. What occurred beforehand 
during the day is known as the " Kip's Bay affair." ' 

1 According to the Hessian major, Baurmcistcr, the 13th had been first 
named as the date for the attack. " On this day," he writes, " General Howe 
wished to land upon the island of New York, because 18 years ago on 
this day General Wulff [Wolfe] had conquered at Quebec, but also lost his 
life. The watchword for this end was ' Quebec ' and the countersign 
' Wulff,' but the frigates were too late for this attack as they only sailed 
out of the fleet at five o'clock on the evening of the 14th." 

The sailing up of these ships is described as follows by the Hon. Joshua 
Babcock, one of the Rhode Island Committee who had come down to consult 
with Washington in regard to military matters : " Just after Dinner 3 Frigates 
and a 40 Gun Ship (as if they meant to attack the city) sail'd up the East 
River under a gentle Breeze towards Hell-Gate, & kept up an incessant Fire 
assisted with the Cannon at Govern" Island : The Batteries from the City 
return 'd the Ships the like Salutation : 3 Men agape, idle Spectators had 
the misfortune of being killed by one Cannon-Ball, the other mischief suffered 
on our Side was inconsiderable Saving the making a few Holes in some of the 
Buildings ; one shot struck within 6 Foot of Gen 1 Washington, as He was on 
Horseback riding into the Fort." — MS. Letter in R. I. Public Archives. Also 
in Force. 

Baurmcistcr preserves the incident that Washington was often to be seen 
at the Fast River batteries in New York, and on one occasion " provoked 
the Hessian artillery Captain Krug |on the Long Island sid<| to fire off 2 
Cannon at him and his suite." " A third shot too would not have been 
wanting, if the horses of the enemy had been pleased to stay," adds the 

232 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

Kip's Bay was the large cove which then set in from 
the Hast River at about the foot of Thirty-fourth Street. 
It took its name from the old Kip family, who owned the 
adjacent estate. From this point breastworks had been 
thrown up along the river's bank, wherever a landing 
Could be made, down as far as Corlears Hook or Grand 
Street. Five brigades had been distributed at this front 
to watch the enemy. Silliman's was in the city ; at Cor- 
lears Hook was Parsons' brigade, to which Prcscott's 
Massachusetts men had now been added ; beyond, in the 
vicinity of Fifteenth Street, on the Stuyvcsant estate, 
Scott's New York brigade took post ; above him, at about 
Twenty-third Street, was Wadsworth's command, con- 
sisting of Sage's, Selden's, and Gay's Connecticut levies ; 
and further along near Kip's Bay was Colonel Douglas, 
with his brigade of three Connecticut militia regiments 
under Cooke, Pettibone, and Talcott, and his own battal- 
ion of levies. 1 Up the river a chain of sentinels commu- 
nicated with the troops at Horn's Hook, and every half 
hour they passed the watchword to each other, " All is 

Very early on the morning of the 15th, which was Sun- 
day, the five British frigates which had anchored under 
the Long Island shore sailed up and took position close 
within musket-shot of our lines at Kip's Bay, somewhat 
to the left of Douglas. This officer immediately moved 

1 We know the position of the troops from the statements of their officers. 
Douglas says : " I lay with my brigade a little below Turtle [Kips] Bay 
where we hove up lines for more than one mile in length. Gen'l Wads- 
worth managed the lines on the right and I on the left." Brigade-Major 
Fish says of Scott's brigade that they were " marched to the lines back of 
Stuyvcsant's," about the foot of Fifteenth Street. Parsons was below at 
Corlears Hook as appears from Document 32. Silliman himself says that 
he was in the city. Consult map of New York, Part II., where the position 
at the time of the British attack is given. 

6. ' 


his brigade abreast of them. The ships were so near, says 
Martin, one of Douglas' soldiers, that he could distinctly 
read the name of the Phoenix, which was lying " a little 
quartering." Meanwhile, on the opposite shore, in New- 
town Creek, the British embarked their light infantry and 
reserves, and Donop's grenadiers and yagers, all under 
Clinton and Cornwallis, in eighty-four boats, and drew 
up in regular order on the water ready to cross to the 
New York side. 1 The soldier just quoted remembered 
that the; /looked like " a large clover field in full bloom." 
All along the line our soldiers were watching these move- 
ments with anxious curiosity — that night they would 
have been withdrawn from the position — when suddenly 
between ten and eleven o'clock the five frigates opened 
a sweeping fire from their seventy or eighty guns upon 
the breastworks where Douglas and his brigade were 
drawn up. It came like "a peal of thunder," and the 
militiamen could do nothing but keep well under cover. 
The enemy fired at them at their pleasure, from " their 
tops and everywhere," until our men soon found it im- 

1 " The first landing was of 84 boats with English infantry and Hes- 
sian grenadiers under command of Lieut-General Clinton. Commodore 
Hotham conducted this landing, under cover of 5 frigates anchored close 
before Kaaps [Kip's] Bay above Cron Point, and maintained a 3 hours 
cannonade on the enemy's advanced posts in the great wood. The signal of 
the red flag denoted the departure of the boats, the blue on the contrary the 
stoppage of the passage, and if a retreat should become necessary, a yellow 
flag would be shown." — Baurmeisler. "Sunday morning at break of day, 
five ships weighed anchor and fell in close within a musket shot of our lines 
quite to the left of me. I then moved my brigade abreast of them. They lay 
very quiet until 10 o'clock and by that time they had about 80 of their 
boats from under Long Island shore full with men which contained about five 
or six thousand and four transports full ready to come in the second boats." 
— Col. Douglas. 

Major Fish wrote September 19th that the enemy's ships of war were 
drawn up "in line of Rattle parallel to the shore, the Troops to the amount 
of about 4000 being embarked in flat bottom Boats, and the Boats paraded." 
—Hist. Mac. 

234 CAMPAIGN OF 1 7/6. 

possible to stay in that position. " We kept the lines," 
says Martin. " till they were almost levelled upon us, 
when our officers, seeing we could make no resistance, 
J and no orders coming from any superior officer, and that 
we must soon be entirely exposed to the rake of the 
guns, gave the order to leave." At the same time the 
Hot ilia crossed the river, and getting under cover of the 
smoke of the ships' guns, struck off to the left of Douglas, 
where the 1 -oops effected a landing without difficulty. 
Howe says : " The fire of the shipping being so well di- 
rected and so incessant, the enemy could not remain in 
their works, and the descent was made without the least 
opposition. ' ' The ordeal the militia were subjected to was 
something which in similar circumstances veteran -Troops 
have been unable to withstand. 1 Retreating from the 
lines, Douglas's men scattered to the rear towards the 
Post Road, and the enemy who landed and formed rapid- 
ly were soon after them. Douglas himself, who was an 
excellent officer, was the last to leave, and all but escaped 
capture.' There was no collecting the brigade, however, 

1 All accounts agree that it was next to impossible to remain under the 
fire of the men-of-war. Major Fish says that " a Cannonade from the ships 
began, which far exceeded my Ideas, and which seemed to infuse a Panic thro* 
the whole of our Troops, &c." Silliman speaks of the " incessant fire on our 
lines" with grapeshot as being " so hot" that the militia were compelled to 
retreat. Douglas's description is as quaint as it is expressive : " They very 
suddenly began as heavy a cannonade perhaps as ever was from no more 
ships, as they had nothing to molest them." Martin thought his head would 
" go with the sound." Lieutenant John Hcinrichs, of the Hessian yagers, 
writes : " Last Sunday we landed under the thundering rattle of 5 men-of-war." 

5 The enemy's boats, says Douglas, " got under cover of the smoke of the 
shipping and then struck to the left of my lines in order to cut me off from a 
retreat. My left wing gave way which was formed of the militia. I lay my- 
self on the ri^ht wing waiting for the boats until Capt. Prentice came to mc 
and told me, if I meant to save myself to leave the lines, for that was the or- 
ders on the left and that they had left the lines. I then told my men to make 
the best of their way as I found I had but about ten left with mc. They soon 
moved out and I then made the best of my way out." — See further in Docu- 
ments, Part II., p. 71. 


in any new position in the field, for the thought of being 
intercepted had created a panic among the militia, and 
they fled in confusion. 

When the cannonade at Kip's Hay began, Washington 
was four miles distant, at Marlem. At the first sound of 
the guns he mounted his horse and rode with all possible 
despatch to the scene. At about the same time, General 
Parsons, probably by Putnam's order, directed Pres- 
cott's, Tyler's, and the remnant of Huntington's regiment, 
not over eighty strong, to march immediately to the 
assistance of the troops where the enemy were landing. 1 
Fellows' brigade was also ordered along for the same 

At about the corner of the present Thirty-sixth vStrcet 
and Fourth Avenue stood at that time the residence of 
Robert Murray, the Quaker merchant, on what was 
known as " Inclenbcrg" heights, now Murray Hill. His 
grounds extended to the Post Road, which there ran 
along the line of Lexington Avenue. Just above him a 
cross-road connected the Post and Bloomingdalc roads, 
which is repesented to-day by the line of Forty-second 
and Forty-third streets. On the south side of the cross- 
road where it intersected the Post Road was a large corn- 
field adjoining or belonging to Murray's estate. When 
Washington reached this vicinity he found the militia re- 
treating in disorder along both the cross and the Post 
roads, and Fellows' brigade just coming on to the field. 
The general, with Putnam and others, was then on the 
rising ground in the vicinity of the present Forty-second 
Street reservoir In a very short time Parsons, and his 
regiments arrived by the Bloomingdalc Road, and V Wash- 

1 Document 32. 



ington in person directed them to form along- the line of 
the Post Road in front of the enemy, who were rapidly 
advancing- from Kip's Bay. " Take the walls !" " Take 
the cornfield !" he shouted ; and Parsons' men quickly 
ran to the walls and the field, but in a confused and dis- 
ordered manner. Their general did his best to get them 
into line on the ground, but found it impossible, they 
were so dispersed, and, moreover, they were now begin- 
ning to retreat. The panic which had seized the Con- 
necticut militia was communicated to Fellows' Massachu- 
setts men, Avho were also militia ; and now it was to sweep 
up Parsons' Continentals, including Prescott's men of 
Bunker Hill. The latter brigade had been brought on 
to the ground in bad shape through the fugitive militia- 
men, and when the British light infantry appeared they 
broke and retreated with the rest. 

To Washington all this confusion and rout seemed 
wholly unnecessary and unreasonable, and dashing in 
among the flying crowds he endeavored to convince them 
that there was no danger, and used his utmost exertions 
to bring them into some order. Pie was roused to more 
than indignation at the sight, and in his letter to Con- 
gress on the following day denounced the conduct of 
these troops as " disgraceful and dastardly." ' Putnam, 

1 Washington's account of the panic is as follows : 

" As soon as I heard the firing, I rode with all possible despatch towards 
the place of landing, where to my great surprise and mortification I found the 
troops that had been posted in the lines retreating with the utmost precipita- 
tion and those ordered to support them (Parsons' and Fellows' brigades) fly- 
ing in every direction, and in the greatest confusion, notwithstanding the ex- 
ertions of their generals to form them. I used every means in my power to 
rally and to get them into some order ; but my attempts were fruitless and 
ineffectual ; and on the appearance of a small party of the enemy, not more 
than sixty or seventy, their disorder increased, and they ran away in the 
greatest confusion, without firing a single shot." 

There were several stories current after the affair which cannot be traced to 


Parsons, Fellows, and others were equally active in at- 
tempting to stop the flight, but it was to no purpose. 
" The very demons of fear and disorder," says Martin, 
" seemed to take full possession of all and everything on 
that day." Nothing remained but to continue the re- 
treat by the Bloomingdale Road to Harlem Heights. 

During these scenes, Wadsworth's and Scott's bri- 
gades, which w«re below Douglas on the river lines, saw 
that their only safety lay, also, in immediate retreat, and 
falling back, they joined the other brigades above, though 
not without suffering some loss. The parties now in the 
greatest danger were Silliman's brigade and Knox with 
detachments, of the artillery, who were still in the city 
three miles below. When Putnam, to whose division 
they belonged, found that no stand could be made at Kip's 
Bay or Murray's Hill, he galloped down through Wads- 
worth's and Scott's retreating troops, to extricate Silli- 
man and the others. 1 Not a moment's time was to be 
lost, for should the British stretch out their troops west 
of the Bloomingdale Road to the North River, escape 
would be impossible. Silliman, meanwhile, had taken 
post with Knox in and to the right of Bayard's Hill Fort, 

any responsible source. One was that the Commander-in-Chief was so 
"distressed and enraged" at the conduct of the troops that "he drew his 
sword and snapped his pistols to check them ;" and that one of his suite was 
obliged to seize his horse's reins and take him out of danger from the enemy. 
Another account represents that he threw his hat on the ground and exclaimed 
whether such were the troops with which he was to defend America ; another 
states that he sought "death rather than life." Mr. Bancroft has shown 
how far these statements arc to be accepted. 

1 Hezekiah Munscll, a soldier of Gay's regiment in Wadsworth's brigade, 
says : " We soon reached the main road which our troops were (ravelling, 
and the first conspicuous person I met was Gen. Putnam. He was making 
his way towards New York when all were going from it. Where he was 
going I could not conjecture, though I afterwards learned he was going 
after a small garrison of men in a crescent fortification which he brought off 
safe." — Hist, of Ancient Windsor, p. 715. 

23S CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

from the top of which they could sec the enemy occupy- 
ing- the island above them. At this juncture, Major 
Aaron Burr, Putnam's aid, rode up to the fort with or- 
ders to retreat. He was told that retreat was out of the 
question. Knox said that he should defend the fort to 
the last. But Burr, who knew the ground thoroughly, 
declared that he could pilot them safely to the upper end 
of the island, and Silliman's men set out for the attempt.' 
Putnam also had called in other guards, and the entire 
force then took to the woods above Greenwich, on the 
west side, and keeping under cover wherever it was pos- 
sible, made their way along without opposition. But it 
proved to be a most trying and hazardous march. The 
day was " insupportably hot ;" more than one soldier 
died at the spring or brook where he drank ; any mo- 
ment the enemy, who at some points were not half a mile 
away, might be upon them. Officers rode in advance and 
to the right to reconnoitre and sec that the way was clear. 
Putnam, Silliman, Burr, and others were conspicuous in 
their exertions. Silliman was " sometimes in the front, 
sometimes in the centre, and sometimes in the rear." The 
men extended along in the woods for two miles, and the 
greatest precautions were necessary to keep them out of 
sight of the main road. 3 Putnam encouraged them con- 

1 Affidavits in Davis' " Life of Burr," vol. i. 

2 The linc*of Putnam's retreat appears to have been from Bayard's Hill 
Fort on Grand Street across the country to Monument Lane (now Green- 
wich Avenue), which led to the obelisk erected in honor of General Wolf 
and others at a point on Fifteenth Street, a little west of Eighth Avenue. (Sec 
Montressor's Map of New York in 1775, "Valentine's Manual.") The lane 
there joined with an irregular road running on the line of Eighth Avenue, 
known afterwards as the Abington or Fitz Roy road, as far as Forty-second 
or Third Street. There Putnam, under Burr's guidance probably, pushed 
through the woods, keeping west of the Bloomingdalc Road, and finally 
taking the latter at some point above Seventieth Street, and so on to 
Harlem Heights. (See Map of New York, Part II.) 


tinually by flying' on his horse, covered with foam, wher- 
ever his presence was most necessary. " Without his 
extraordinary exertions," says Colonel Humphreys, who 
frequently saw Putnam that day, " the guards must have 
been inevitably lost, and it is probable the entire corps 
would have been cut in pieces." Much, too, of the suc- 
cess of the march was due to Burr's skill and knowledge. 
Near Bloomingdalc, the command fell in with a party of 
the British, when Silliman formed three hundred of his 
men and beat them off. After making a winding march 
of at least " twelve miles," these greatly distressed troops 
finally reached Harlem Heights after dark, to the surprise 
and relief of the other brigades, who had given them up 
for lost. 

Although skilfully conducted, this escape is to be re- 
ferred, in reality, to Howe's supineness and the hospi- 
tality of Mrs. Robert Murray, at whose house the British 
generals stopped for rest and refreshment after driving 
back our troops. Instead of continuing a vigorous pur- 
suit or making any effort to intercept other parties, they 
spent a valuable interval at the board of their entertaining 
hostess, whose American sympathies added flavor and 
piquancy to the conversation. "Mrs. Murray," says 
Dr. Thacher in his military journal, "treated them with 
cake and wine, and they were induced to tarry two hours 
or more, Governor Tryon frequently joking her about 
her American friends. By this happy incident, General 
Putnam, by continuing his march, escaped a rencounter 
with a greatly superior force, which must have proved 
fatal to his whole party. Ten minutes, it is said, would 
have been sufficient for the enemy to have secured the 
road at the turn and entirely cut off General Putnam's 
retreat. It has since become almost a common saying 

24O CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

among- our officers, that Mrs. Murray saved this part of 
the American army." 

Of the Kip's Bay affair there is but one criticism to be 
made — it was an ungovernable panic. Beginning with a 
retreat from the water-line, it grew into a fright and a 
run for safer ground. Panics are often inexplicable. The 
best troops as well as the poorest have been known to fly 
from the merest shadow of danger. In this case, so far 
as the beginning of the rout is concerned, probably the 
militiamen did no worse than Washington's best men 
would have done. A retreat from the ship's fire could not 
have been avoided, though, with better troops, the sub- 
sequent rout could have been checked and the enemy 

The incident was especially unfortunate at that time, 
as it served to increase existing jealousies between the 
troops from the different States, and so far impair the 
morale of the army. It excites a smile to-day to read 
that men from New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland 
charged New Englanders generally with provincialism 
and cowardice, and that the charge was resented ; but 
such was the fact. The feeling between them grew to 
such an extent that Washington was obliged to issue 
orders condemning its indulgence. The Kip's Bay panic 
offered a favorable opportunity for emphasizing these 
charges, and the Connecticut and Massachusetts runa- 
ways came in for their full share of uncomplimentary 
epithets. The Connecticut men were remembered par- 
ticularly, "dastards" and "cowards" being the terms 
which greeted their ears. All this of course could not 
but be ruinous to the discipline of the army, and it was 

kip's hay affair. 241 

an alarming fact to be dealt with.' The men south of 
New England were not without reason in making their 
harsh criticisms, for many of the New England regi- 
ments, the militia in particular, came upon the ground 
with ah inferior military organization. They were mis- 
erably officered in many cases, and the men, never ex- 
pectingio become soldiers as such, were indifferent to 
discipline. But in another view the criticisms were un- 
fair, because the Pennsylvanians and others, in making 
comparisons, compared their best troops with New Eng- 
land's poorest. As two thirds of the arm) ;vcre from 
New England — more than one third from Connecticut- 
men from this section were necessarily represented 
largely in every duty or piece of fighting, and whenever 
any misconduct of a few occurred, it was made to rellect 
discredit upon the whole. There was no difference 
between the better drilled and officered regiments from 
the several States, just as there was little difference be- 
tween their hastily gathered militia. Thus it may be 
mentioned as a notable and somewhat humorous coin- 
cidence that at the very moment the Connecticut militia 
were flying from the bombardment of the ships at Kip's 

1 This jealousy disappeared when the army was reorganized and the troops 
became proficient in discipline. The American soldier was then found to be 
equal to any that could be brought against him, regardless of the locality from 
which he hailed. But in the present campaign the sectional feeling referred 
to came near working mischief, especially as it was kept alive by so promi- 
nent an officer as Colonel Reed, the Adjutant-general. New England officers 
protested against the " rancor" and "malice" of his assertions, and repre- 
sented their injurious influence to members of Congress. Washington, find- 
ing that the matter was becoming serious, took the occasion to send a special 
invitation to Colonels Silliman and Douglas to dine with him in the latter 
part of September, when he " disavowed and absolutely disapproved every 
such piece of conduct" which had been a grievance to these and other Eastern 
officers. — Silliman' s MS. Lcltcr. See also extracts in Gordon's history as to 
the condition of the army at this time. 

242 CAMTAIGN OF 1 776. 

Bay, New Jersey and Pennsylvania militia were flying 
with equal haste from the bombardment of other ships 
at Powle's Hook as they sailed up the North River to 
Bloomingdale on the same morning • and that while 
Reed, Tilgh/pan, Smallwood, and others, were denounc- 
ing the Kip s Bay fugitives in unmeasured terms, the 
indignant Mercer was likewise denouncing the "scan- 
dalous" behavior of the fugitives in his own command. 1 

The events of the 15th naturally and justly roused the 
wrath of both Washington and Mercer, and their denun- 
ciations become a part of the record of the time. But in 
recording them it belongs to those who write a century 
later to explain and qualify. Justice to the men who 
figured in these scenes requires that the terms of re- 
proach should not be perpetuated as a final stigma 
upon their character as soldiers of the Revolution. All 
military experience proves that troops who have once 
given way in a panic are not therefore or neces- 
sarily poor troops ; and the experience at Kip's Bay 
and Powle's Hook was only an illustration in the 
proof. These men had their revenge. If the records 
of New Jersey and Pennsylvania were to be thoroughly 
examined, they would doubtless show that large num- 
bers of Mercer's militia re-entered the service and ac- 
quitted themselves well. This is certainly true of many 
of the routed crowd whom Washington found it impos- 
sible to rally on Murray's Hill and in Murray's cornfield. 

1 "The militia of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, stationed on Bergen 
and at Paulus-Hook, have behaved in a scandalous manner, running off from 
their posts on the first cannonade from the ships of the enemy. At all the 
posts we find it difficult to keep the militia to their duty." (Mercer to Wash- 
ington, Sept. l/th, 1776.) " I don't know whether the New Eng* 1 troops will 
stand there [at Harlem Heights], but I am sure they will not upon open 
ground," etc. — Tilghman. Document 29. 

kip's lay AFFAIR. 24-3 

Some of those who ran from the Light Infantry on the 
15th assisted in driving- the same Light Infantry on the 
1 6th. Prescott's men a few weeks later successfully 
defended a crossing in Westchester County and thwarted 
the energy's designs. Not a few of the militia in Doug- 
las's brigade were the identical men with whom Oliver 
Wolcott marched up to meet Burgoync a year later, and 
who, under Colonels Cook and Latimer, " threw away 
their lives" in the decisive action of that campaign, suffer- 
ing a greater loss than any other two regiments on the 
field. Fellows, also, was there to co-operate in forcing 
the British surrender. In Parsons' brigade were young 
officers and soldiers who formed part of the select corps 
that stormed Stony Point, and among Wadsworth's 
troops were others who, five years later, charged upon 
the Yorktown redoubt with the leading American Light 
Infantry battalion. 1 

When Washington found that the enemy had made 
their principal landing at Thirty-fourth Street, and that 
a retreat was necessary, he sent back word to have Har- 
lem Heights well secured by the troops there, while at 
the same time a considerable force under Mifflin marched 

1 The Major of this battalion (Gimat's) was John Palsgrave Wyllys, of 
Hartford, who, as Wadsworth's Brigade-Major, was taken prisoner at Kip"s 
Bay. Alexander Hamilton and Brigade-Major Fish, of New York, who were 
swept along in this retreat, also figured prominently at Yorktown. Two young 
ensigns in the Connecticut " levies," Stephen Belts and James Morris, were 
captains of Light Infantry in that affair. Lieutenant Stephen Olncy, of Rhode 
Island, who barely escaped capture on Long Island by Cornwallis's grena- 
diers, led Gimat's battalion as captain, and was severely wounded while clam- 
bering into the redoubt ; and there were probably a considerable number of 
others, officers and men, who were chased by this British general in the pres- 
ent campaign, who finally had the satisfaction of cornering him in Virginia in 
1781. Scammeil, Huntington, Tilghman, Humphreys, and others, could be 



down to the strong ground near McGowan's to cover the 
escape of troops that might take the King's Bridge road. 
Chester and Sargent evacuated Horn's Hook and came 
n with Mifflin. Upon the landing of more troops at 
Kip's Bay, Howe sent a column towards McGowan's, 
and in the evening the Light Infantry reached Apthorpc's 
just after Silliman's retreat. Washington had waited on 
the Bloomingdale Road until the last, and retired from 
the Apthorpe Mansion but a short time oeforc the British 
occupied it. Here at Bloomingdale the enemy encamped 
their left wing for the night, while their right occupied 
Horn's Hook, their outposts not being advanced on 
the left beyond One Hundredth Street. The Americans 
slept on Harlem Heights, not quite a mile and a half 
above them. 

"That night," says Humphreys, "our soldiers, ex- 
cessively fatigued by the sultry march of the day, 
their clothes wet by a severe shower of rain that suc- 
ceeded towards the evening, their blood chilled by the 
cold wind that produced a sudden change in the temper- 
ature of the air, and their hearts sunk within them by 
the loss of baggage, artillery, and works, in which they 
had been taught to put great confidence, lay upon their 
arms, covered only by the clouds of an uncomfortable 

' The American loss in prisoners in the Kip's Bay affair was seventeen 
officers and about three hundred and fifty men, nearly all from Connecticut 
and New York. A very few were killed and wounded, Major Chapman, of 
Tyler's regiment, being among the former. 

The officer of highest rank among the prisoners was Colonel Samuel Scl- 
den, of Iladlymc, Conn., mentioned on page 121. (Sec biographical sketched, 
Part II.) One of his officers was Captain Eliphalct Holmes, afterwards of 
(he Continental line, a neighbor of the Colonel's. Heing a man of great 
strength he knocked down two Hessians, who attempted to capture him, and 

kip's bay affair. 245 

During the day, meantime, the British occupied the 
city. After the departure of the last troops under Silli- 
man (Knox with others escaping to Powle's Hook by 
boats) a white flag was displayed on Bayard's Hill Re- 
doubt by citizens, and in the afternoon a detachment from 
the fleet first took possession.' In the evening a bri- 
gade from Howe's force encamped along the outer line of 
works. The next forenoon, the 16th, " the first of the 
English troops came to town," under General Robertson, 
and were drawn up in two lines on Broadway. Gov- 
ernor Tryon was present with officers of rank and a 
great concourse of people. " Joy and gladness seemed 
to appear in all countenances ;" while the first act of the 
victors was to identify and confiscate every house owned 
and deserted by the rebels. "And thus," says the 
now happy loyalist pastor Shewkirk, " the city was de- 
livered from those Usurpers who had oppressed it so 

Fortunately, the demoralizing effect of the panic of the 
15th was to be merely temporary. Indeed, before the 
details of the affair had time to circulate through the 
camps and work further discouragement or depression, 
there occurred another encounter with the enemy on the 
following morning, which neutralized the disgrace of the 
previous day and revived the spirits of our army to an 
astonishing degree. So much importance was attached 
to it at the time as being a greatly needed stimulant for 
the American soldier that it becomes of interest to follow 
its particulars. It has passed into our history as the 
affair or 

1 Baurmcistcrs Narrative. Shewkirk' s Diary. 

246 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 


Battle of Harlem Heights.' 

Never for a moment relaxing his watch over the 
enemy's movements, Washington, before daylight on the 
morning of the 1 6th, ordered a reconnoitring party out 
to ascertain the exact position of the British. The party 
consisted of the detachment of "Rangers," 1 or volun- 

1 The centennial anniversary of this battle was celebrated in 1876, under 
the auspices of the New York Historical Society. The oration delivered on 
the occasion by the Hon. John Jay has been published by the Society, with 
an appendix containing a large number of documents bearing upon the affair, 
the whole making a valuable contribution to our Revolutionary history. 

' THE Rangers. — The small corps known by this name consisted, first, as 
already stated, of about one hundred men of Durkcc's Connecticut Regiment 
(Twentieth Continentals), who appear to have accompanied Lieutenant-Colonel 
Knowlton, of that regiment, when he went on any special service. These 
he took with him to Long Island. After the battle there the Rangers were 
formally organized as a separate body, composed of volunteer officers and 
men from several of the New England regiments. These were borne on their 
respective regimental rolls as detached " on command." For captains, 
Knowlton had at least three excellent officers, men from his own region, vvhom 
he knew and could trust — Nathan Hale, of Charles Webb's regiment, and Ste- 
phen Brown and Thomas Grosvcnor, of his own. The rolls in Force show 
that there were officers and men in the Rangers from Durkcc's, Webb's, 
Chester's, Wyllys', and Tyler's Connecticut ; Ward's [and Sargent's Massa- 
chusetts ; and Varnum's Rhode Island. For a time they received orders 
directly from Washington and then from Putnam, and were of great service 
to the army in watching the enemy along the Harlem front. They distin- 
guished themselves.on the 16th, and later in the season, when Colonel Magaw 
was in command of Fort Washington, he begged to have the Rangers remain 
with him, as he declared that they were the only safe protection to the lines. 
(Greene to Washington.) They remained and were taken prisoners at the 
surrender of the fort, November 16th. Though probably not over one hun- 
dred and fifty strong, their losses seem to have been heavy. Knowlton fell 
at Harlem Heights ; Major Coburn, who succeeded him, was severely wounded 
a few weeks later ; Captain Nathan Hale was executed as a spy ; and Cap- 
tain Brown, a man as cool as Knowlton, was killed at the defence of Fort 
Mifflin near Philadelphia, in 1777, a cannon-ball severing his head from his 
body. Grosvcnor served through the war, retiring as Lieutenant-Colonel com- 
manding the Fifth of the Connecticut line. These facts are gathered from 
MS. Order Books, documents in Force and Hist. Mag., and from MS. letter 
of the late Judge Oliver Burnham, of Cornwall, Conn., a soldier in Wyllys" 


teers from the New England regiments, which had been 
organized for scouting service since the battle of Long 
Island, and placed under t,hc command of Lieutenant- 
Colonel Thomas Knowlton, of Connecticut. No better 
man could have been found in the army to head such a 
corps, for he had proved his courage at Bunker Mill, and 
on more than one occasion since had shown n:«s capacity 
for leadership. The detachment started out, not more 
than one hundred and twenty strong, and passing over 
to the Bloomingdalc heights, marched for the Blooming- 
dale Road, where the enemy were last seen the night 

The ground which Knowlton reconnoitred and which 
became the scene ol the action remains to-day unchanged 
in its principal features. What was then known as Har- 
lem Heights is that section of the island which rises 
prominently from the plain west of Eighth Avenue and 
north of One Hundred and Twenty-fifth Street. Its 
southern face extended from an abrupt point, called 
"Point of Rocks," at One Hundred and Twenty-sixth 
Street, east of Ninth Avenue, northwesterly to the Hud- 
son, a distance of three quarters of a mile. At the foot 
of these heights lay a vale or " hollow way," through the 
centre of which now runs Manhattan Street, and opposite, 
at distances varying from a quarter to a third of a mile, 
rose another line of bluffs and slopes parallel to Har- 
lem Heights. This lower elevation stood mainly in the 
Bloomingdalc division of the city's out-ward, and is gen- 
regiment and one of the Rangers, in which he says : " Soon after the retreat 
from Long Island, Colonel Knowlton was ordered to raise a battalion of 
troops from the different regiments called the Rangers, to reconnoitre along 
our shores and between the armies. Being invited by a favorite officer, I 
volunteered, and on the day the enemy took New York we were at Harlem 
and had no share in the events of that day." 

248 CAMPAIGN OF 1 7/6. 

crally known to-day as Bloomingdale Heights. In 1776 
there were two farms on these heights, owned and occu- 
pied by Adrian Hogeland and Benjamin Vandewater, 
which were partly cultivated, but mainly covered with 
woods. The Bloomingdale Road, as raited in a previous 
chapter, terminated at Hogeland's lands about One Hun- 
dred and Eighth or Tenth streets, and from there a lane 
or road ran easterly by Vandewater's and joined the 
King's Bridge road near One Hundred and Twentieth 
Street. East of the Bloomingdale and south of Harlem 
Heights stretched the tract of level land called Harlem 

After the retreat of the 15th, Washington's army en- 
camped on Harlem Heights, with their pickets lining the 
southern slope from Point of Rocks to the Hudson. The 
British, as we have seen, lay at Bloomingdale and across 
the upper part of Central Park to Horn's Hook. An 
enemy, posted at the lower boundary of Harlem Plains, 
around McGowan's Pass, where the ground again rises at 
the northern end of the Park, might be easily observed 
from the Point of Rocks, and any advance from that 
quarter could be reported at once. Nothing, however, 
could be seen of movements made on the Bloomingdale 
Road or Heights, and it was in that direction that the 
" Rangers" now proceeded to reconnoitre at dawn on 
the 16th. 

Knowlton, marching under cover of the woods, soon 
came upon the enemy's pickets, somewhere, it would 
appear, between Hogeland's and Apthorpe's houses on 
the Bloomingdale Road, more than a mile below the 
American lines. This was the encampment of the Light 
Infantry, and their Second and Third Battalions, sup- 
ported by the Forty-second Highlanders, were iinmcdi- 


ately pushed forward to drive back this party of rebels 
who had dared to attack them on their own ground. 
Anticipating some such move, Knowlton had already 
posted his men behind a stone wall, and when the British 
advanced he met them with a vigorous fire. Mis men 
fired eight or nine rounds a piece with good effect, when 
the enemy threatened to turn his flanks, and he ordered 
a retreat, which was well conducted. In this brief encoun- 
ter the Rangers lost about ten of their number, and be- 
lieved that they inflicted much more than this loss upon 
the Infantry.' 

At his head-quarters in the Morris Mansion, Washing- 
ton, meantime, was writing his despatches to Congress. 
The unwelcome duty fell to him to report the scenes of 
the previous day which had so deeply stirred his indigna- 
tion. He made a plain statement of the facts, described 
the retreat from New York, acknowledged the loss of 

1 The Rangers were thus engaged in a distinct skirmish before the main 
action of the day. Washington wrote to Congress early on the 16th : " I 
have sent some reconnoitring parties to gain intelligence, if possible, of the 
disposition of the enemy." A letter in the Connecticut Gazette, reprinted in Mr. 
Jay's documents, and which was probably written by Captain Brown, says : 
" On Monday morning the General ordered us to go and take the enemy's 
advanced guard ; accordingly we set out just before day and found where they 
were ; at day-brake we were discovered by the enemy, who were 400 strong, 
and we were 120. They marched up within six rods of us and there formed 
to give us Battle, which we were ready for ; and Colonel Knowlton gave or- 
ders to fire, which we did, and stood theirs till we perceived they were getting 
their flank-guards round us. After giving them eight rounds apiece the Col. 
oncl gave orders for retreating, which we performed very well, without the 
loss of a man while retreating, though we lost about 10 while in action." 
Judge Burnham says substantially the same : " Colonel Knowlton marched 
close to the enemy as they lay on one of the Harlem Heights, and discharged 
a few rounds, and then retreated over the hill out of sight of the enemy and 
concealed us behind a low stone wall. The Colonel marked a place about 
eight or ten rods from the wall, and charged us not to rise or fire a gun until 
the enemy reached that place. The British followed in solid column, and 
soon were on the ground designated when we gave them nine rounds and 
retreated. . . . Our number engaged was only about 120." 

250 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

baggage and cannon, and despondently expressed his mis- 
givings as to the soldierly qualities of a majority of Ms 
troops. " We arc now," he wrote, " encamped with the 
main body of the army on the Heights of Harlem, where 
1 should hope the enemy would meet with a defeat in case 
of an attack, if the generality of our troops would behave 
with tolerable bravery. But experience, to my extreme 
affliction, has convinced me that this is rather to be 
wished for than expected. However, I trust that there 
arc many who will act like men, and show themselves 
worthy of the blessings of freedom." Not unfounded was 
this trust, for at the very time the commander-in-chief 
was writing the words, the Rangers were bravely fight- 
ing in the Bloomingdale woods, and many others soon 
after, including one of the very regiments which fled from 
Kip's Bay twenty-four hours before, were likewise to act 
" like men" and prove their real worth in the open field. 
Just as the letters were sent off word came in to head- 
quarters that the enemy had appeared in several large 
bodies upon the plains, and Washington rode down to 
the picket-posts to make the necessary dispositions in case 
of an attack. Adjutant-General Reed and Lieutenant 
Tilghman, who had also been writing private letters de- 
scribing Sunday's panic, and other members of the staff, 
went to the front about the same time. Knowlton's men 
had not yet come in, and their fire was distinctly heard 
from the Point of Rocks, where the commander-in-chief 
was now surveying the situation. Anxious to learn 
whether the British were approaching in force on the 
Bloomingdale Heights, no attack being threatened from 
the plains, Colonel Reed received permission to go 
" clown to our most advanced guard," namely, to the 
Rangers, whom he found making a momentary halt on 


their retreat. The enemy soon came up again in large 
numbers, and the Rangers continued to retire. Colonel 
Reed, describing his experience at this point, states that 
the British advanced so rapidly that he had not quitted a 
house (which may have been Vandcwatcr's) five minutes 
before they were in possession of it. " Finding how 
things were going," to use Reed's words, he returned to 
Washington " to get some support for the brave fellows 
who had behaved so well." Knowlton, however, fell 
back to our lines, and the enemy halted in their pursuit 
on the north-cast edge of Bloomingdalc Heights, opposite 
the Point of Rocks, where a part of them appeared in 
open sight, and " in the most insulting manner" sounded 
their bugle-horns as if on a fox chase. " I never felt such 
a sensation before," says Reed; "it seemed to crown 
our disgrace." But the chase was not yet over. 

Learning from Knowlton that the British Infantry who 
had followed him in were about three hundred strong, and 
knowing that they were some distance from their main 
army, Washington determined, if possible, to effect their 
capture. Knowlton's men, who had done nobly, were 
ready for another brush, and there were troops at hand 
who could be depended upon to behave well under any 
circumstances. The opportunity for a brisk and success- 
ful skirmish presented itself, and the general proposed to 
improve it. Accordingly he formed the plan of engag- 
ing the enemy's attention in their front, while a flanking 
party should attempt to get into their rear and cut off 
their escape. The troops that were stationed nearest to 
the Point of Rocks at this time appear to have been Nix- 
on's brigade, of Greene's division, Weedon's newly ar- 
rived regiment of Virginians, General Beall's Maryland- 
crs, Colonel Sargent's eastern brigade, Clinton's and 

252 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

Scott's brigades, and other regiments belonging to Put- 
nam's and Spencer's divisions. For the flanking detach- 
ment, the general selected Knowlton's Rangers, to whom 
he added a reinforcement of three of the Virginia com- 
panies, about one hundred and twenty men, under Major 
Andrew Lcitch. These were directed to make their 
way or " steal around" to the rear of the enemy by their 
right flank. To make a demonstration against the enemy 
in their front, while the flanking party effected its object, 
a detachment of volunteers was organized from Nixon's 
brigade, under Lieutenant-Colonel Archibald Crary, of 
Varnum's Rhode Islanders,' who marched down into the 
" hollow way" directly towards the British on the op- 
posite ridge. As Washington hoped, this move had the 
desired effect. The British, seeing so small a party com- 
ing out against them, immediately ran down the rocky 
hill into an open field, where they took post behind some 
bushes and a rail fence that extended from the hill to the 
post road about four hundred yards in front of the Point of 
Rocks.' This field was part of the old Kortwright farm, 

'Captain John Gooch, of Varnum's regiment, wrote September 23d : " On 
the 16th the enemy advanced and took possession of a hight on our right flank 
about half a mile Distance with about 3000 [300?] men ; a party from our bri- 
gade of 150 men, who turned out as volunteers, under the command of Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Crary, of the regm 1 I belong to, were ordered out if possible 
to dispossess them." — Document 30. 

' Tilghman's reference to these movements is as follows: " The General 
rode down to our farthest lines, and when he came near them heard a firing, 
which he was informed was between our scouts and the outguards of the 
enemy. When our men [Knowlton's] came in they informed the General 
that there was a party of about 300 behind a woody hill, tho' they only 
showed a very small party to us. Upon this the General laid a plan for at- 
tacking them in the rear and cutting off their retreat, which was to be effected 
in the following manner : Major Lcitch, with three companies of Col" 
Wccdon's Virginia regiment, and Col" Knowlton with his Rangers, were 
to steal round while a party [Crary's] were to march towards them and seem 
as if they intended to attack in front, but not to make any real attack till they 
saw our men fairly in their rear. The bait took as to one part ; as soon a.s 


lying- just west of the present Harlem Lane, above One 
Hundred and Eighteenth Street, in which the line of 
that fence had been established for more than half a cen- 
tury before this engagement, and where it remained the 
same for more than half a century after. It is possible to- 
day to fix its exact position, for the march of modern im- 
provements has not yet disturbed the site. 

In order to keep the enemy engaged at that point, 
Crary's party opened fire at long range, to which the 
British replied, but not much execution was done on 
either side. Meanwhile Knowlton and Lcitch moved 
out to get in the rear. Colonel Reed accompanied the 
party, and as he had been over the ground he undertook 
the lead, with the Virginians in advance. It was proba- 
bly his intention to march down under cover of the 
bushes, cross the Kortwright farm unobserved some lit- 
tle distance below the enemy, and reach the top of the 
Bloomingdale ridge before they were discovered. Once 
there, the British would be effectually hemmed in. 
Unfortunately, however, some "inferior officers," as it 
would appear, gave unauthorized directions to the flank- 
ing party; or the party forming the " feint" in front 
pushed on too soon, in consequence of which Leitch and 
Knowlton made their attack rather on the British flank 
than in their rear.' The latter now finding a retreat nec- 

they saw our party in front the enemy ran down the hill and took possession 
of some fences and hushes and began to fire at them, but at too great dis- 
tance to do much execution," etc. — Document 29. See also Washington's 
letter to Congress, Sept. 18th, 1776. 

1 It is quite clear that Knowlton and Leitch did not form two parties, as 
some accounts state, one moving against the right flank of the enemy and the 
other against the left. They acted as one body, the Virginians marching in 
front, having been ordered on to " reinforce " Knowlton. Thus Captain 
Brown writes that after retreating they " sent off for a reinforcement," which 
they soon received ; and Colonel Reed confirms this in his testimony at the 

- -.- nam | — .- 

254 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

essary, left the fence and started back up the hill which 
they had descended. Our men quickly followed, Crary 
in front, Knowlton and Leitch on the left, and with the 
Virginians leading, joined in the pursuit with splendid 
spirit and animation. They rushed up the slope, on 
about the line of One Hundred and Twentieth Street, 
and, climbing over the rocks, poured in their volleys upon 
the running Light Infantry. 

It was right here, now, just on the crest of the ridge, 
and when our gallant advance was turning the tide 
against the enemy, that we suffered the loss of those two 
noble leaders whose memory is linked with this day's 
action. In a very short time after the first rush, Leitch 
was severely wounded not far from Reed, having received 
three balls in his side in as many minutes ; and in less 
than ten minutes after a bullet pierced Knowlton's body, 
and he too fell mortally wounded. We can identify the 
spot where the fall of these brave officers occurred as on 
the summit of the Bloomingdale Heights below One Hun- 
dred and Nineteenth Street, and about half way between 
the line of Ninth and Tenth Avenues. The site is in- 
cluded within the limits of the proposed " Morning- 
side Park," which will thus have added to its natural 
attractiveness a never-fading historical association.' 

court-martial of a soldier who acted a cowardly part in the fight. ." On Mon- 
day forenoon," he says, " I left Colonel Knowlton with a design to send him 
a reinforcement. I had accordingly ordered up Major Leitch, and was going 
up to where the firing was," etc. (JForct, 5th Scries, vol. ii. p. 500.) Reed's 
letters to his wife show that Leitch and Knowlton fell near him, within a few 
minutes of each other, which could not have been the case had they been on 
opposite flanks. The accounts of Tilghman, Marshall, the soldier Martin, 
and others, leave no doubt as to this point that there was but one flanking 
party, and that Knowlton commanded it. 

1 Jud^'C Burnham refers to the flank attack briefly as follows : " Passing 
over wc met the enemy's right flank which had been posted out of our sight 
on lower ground. They fired and killed Colonel Knowlton and nearly all 


Leitch was borne to the rear to be tenderly cared for 
until his death at a later day. In after years the Govern- 
ment remembered his services by granting his widow a 
generous pension. Knowlton met his fate with a sol- 
dier's fortitude and a patriot's devotion. " My poor 
Colonel," writes an officer of the Rangers, who without 
doubt was Captain Stephen Brown, next in rank to 
Knowlton, " my poor Colonel, in the second attack, 
was shot just by my side. The ball entered the small of 
his back. I took hold of him, asked him if he was badly 
wounded ? He told me he was ; but says he, ' I do not 
value my life if we do but get the day.' I then ordered 
two men to carry him off. He desired me by all means 
to keep up this flank. He seemed as unconcerned and 
calm as tho' nothing had happened to him." Reed, on 
whose horse the colonel was carried to the lines, wrote 
to his wife on the following day : " Our loss is also con- 
siderable. The Virginia Major (Leitch) who went up first 
with me was wounded with three shot in less than three 
minutes ; but our greatest loss was a brave officer from 
Connecticut, whose name and spirit ought to be immor- 
talized — one Colonel Knowlton. I assisted him off, and 
when gasping in the agonies of death, all his inquiry was 
if we had drove the enemy." Washington spoke of him 
in his letters and orders as "a valuable and gallant 
officer," who would have been "an honor to any coun- 

Meanwhile the Rangers and Virginians kept up their 
attack under their captains, and Washington, finding that 

that had reached the top of the height." This reference to the top of the 
height, taken in connection with Reed's statement that " our brave fellows 
mounted up the rocks and attacked them as they ran in turn," goes to con- 
firm the selection of the spot where Leitch and Knowlton fell. Burnham 
states that he was within a few feet of the latter when he was shot. 



256 CAMPAIGN OF 1 7/6. 

the entire party needed support, sent forward three of the 
Maryland Independent companies, under Major Price, 
and parts of Griffith's and Richardson's Maryland Flyin" - 
Camp.' At the same time, as Washington reports, some 
detachments from the Eastern regiments who were near- 
est the place of action, which included most of Nixon's 
and Sargent's brigades, Colonel Douglas's Connecticut 
levies, and a few others, were ordered into the field. 
Our total force engaged at this time, now about noon, 
was not far from eighteen hundred strong, and very soon 
a considerable battle was in progress. Besides Reed 
and other members of Washington's staff, Generals Put- 
nam, Greene, and George Clinton accompanied the detach- 
ments, and encouraged the men by individual examples 
of bravery.' The troops now " charged the enemy with 
great intrepidity," and drove them from the crest of the 
heights back in a south-westerly direction through a piece 
of woods to a buckwheat field, about four hundred 
paces, as General Clinton describes it, from the ridge, 
or just east of the present Bloomingdale Asylum, where 
the Light Infantry, now reinforced by the Forty-second 
Highlanders, finally made a stand. The distance the lat- 
ter troops had advanced and the sound of the firing had 
evidently warned Howe, at his head-quarters at Ap- 
thorpe's, that they needed immediate assistance, and he 

1 There appear to have been nine companies of Maryland troops engaged, 
three under Major Price, three under Major Mantz, and three others of Rich- 
ardson's regiment. Among these were one or more companies of Colonel 
Ewing's as yet incomplete battalion. One of his officers, Captain Lowe, was 
wounded. — Force, 5th Scries, vol. ii. p. 1024. Also Capt. Bcatty's letter in 
Mr. Jay's Documents. 

■ Greene wrote at a latter date : " Gen. Putnam and the Adj. Gen. were in 
the action and behaved nobly." " I was in the latter part, indeed almost 
the whole of the action." — Gen. Geo. Clinton. (See his two letters in Jay's 
documents.) "Gen. Putnam and Gen. Greene commanded in the Action 
with about 15 to eighteen hundred men." — Stiles' s MS. Diary. 


promptly ordered forward the reserve with two field- 
pieces, together with the Yagers and Linsingen's grena- 
diers of Donop's corps. The field-pieces and Yagers came 
into action at the buckwheat field, and here a stubborn 
contest ensued for about an hour and a half. 1 But our 
troops pressed the enemy so hard at this point, and the 
Highlanders and Yagers having fired away their ammuni- 
tion, the latter all again fell back, and the Americans pur- 
sued them vigorously to an orchard a short distance be- 
low, in the direction of the Bloomingdalc Road. Merc had 
been hard fighting in the open field, and the best British 
troops were beaten ! At the orchard the result was the 
same, the enemy making little resistance, their fire 
" being silenced in a great measure," and the chase con- 
tinued down one of the slight hills on Hogeland's lands 
and up another, near or quite to the terminus of the 
Bloomingdalc Road. Beyond this third position our 
troops were not allowed to follow the enemy, whose main- 
encampment was not far distant. The Fifth Regiment of 
Foot had been trotted up ' ' about three miles without a< 
halt to draw breath," reaching the ground at the close, 
of the action. Linsingen's grenadiers appeared about 
the same time, while Block's and Minegerode's men 
were sent to McGowan's Pass, which had not yet been, 
occupied. A large body of the enemy were put under 
arms, and within their camp every preparation was made 
for a general engagement ; but this, above all things, 
Washington wished to avoid, and, quite content with the 
brilliant success of his troops thus far, he despatched' 

1 " A very smart action ensued in the true Bush-fighting way in which our. 
Troops behaved in a manner that does them the highest honor." — Letter- 
front Col. Griffith, of Maryland. Lossing's Historical Record, vol. ii., 
p. 260. 


258 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

Lieutenant Tilghman to the front to bring them off. Be- 
fore turning from the field they had won so gloriously, 
they answered the bugle blast of the morning with a cheer 
of victory, and marched back in good order.' 

1 " The General fearing (as we afterwards found) that a large body was com- 
ing up to support them, sent me over to bring our men off. They gave a 
Hurra and left the field in good order." — Tilghman's Letters, Doc. 29. 

Tiik BATTLE-FIELD. — Recently gathered material seems to settle all doubts 
as to the several points occupied by the British .and Americans during the ac- 
tion. Where did it begin and where did it end ? As to the first 
began near the British encampment at Bloomingdalc. Here was Howe's 
left, and, as Howe reports, Knowlton approached his advanced posts under 
cover of the woods " by way of Vandcwatcr's Height." This was what we 
call Bloomingdalc Heights. The original proprietor of the greater part of 
this site was Thomas De Key. From him all or a large part of it passed to 
Harman Vandewater and Adrian Hogeland, as the deeds on record show. 
In 1784 the property was purchased by Nicholas Dc Pcystcr. The position 
of Hogcland's and Vandewater's houses as given on the accompanying map 
is taken from old surveys which mark the location and give the names. The 
Bloomingdalc Road at that time stopped at these farms. That part of it 
above One Hundred and Tenth Street, running through Manhattanville and 
continuing until recently to the King's Bridge Road at One Hundred and 
Forty-sixth Street, did not exist during the Revolution, but was opened a 
few years later. (Hoffman's Est. and Rights of the Corporation of New York, 
vol. ii.) A lane or road running from Hogcland's by Vandewater's connected 
the Bloomingdalc with the King's Bridge road at One Hundred and Nine- 
teenth Street. Washington himself gives us the general line. Before the 
battle of Long Island he ordered Heath to have troops ready to march to New 
York as soon as called for, and he describes the proper route thus : " There 
is a road out of the Hacrlcm flat lands that leads up to the hills, and continues 
down the North River by Bloomingdalc, Delancy's, &c, which road I would 
have them march, as they will keep the river in sight, and pass a tolerable 
landing-place for troops in the neighborhood of Bloomingdalc." {Heath 
Correspondence, Mass. Hist. Coll. for 1878.) From this topography and the 
records the position becomes clear : Howe camped around Bloomingdalc with 
his advance posts along the Bloomingdalc Road, perhaps as far as its terminus 
near Hogcland's. They were last seen in this vicinity the night before. 
Knowlton, next morning, marches out from Harlem Heights, reconnoitres 
" by way of Vandewater's," and comes upon the British posts on and along 
the line of the Bloomingdalc Road. Then lie falls back under cover of the 
woods and over fences towards the Point of Rocks, the enemy following him. 

As to succeeding movements, if wc can fix Washington's station and the 
hill which all agree that the British descended, there is no difficulty in follow- 
ing them after. Point of Rocks was the extreme limit of Harlem Heights. 




This affair, as Washington wrote to Schuyler, " inspirited 
our troops prodigiously." The next day the general most 
heartily thanked the men "commanded by Major Leitch, 
who first advanced upon the enemy, and the others who 
so resolutely supported them ;" and once more he called 
upon all to act up to the noble cause in which they were 

The British loss, according to Howe, was fourteen killed 
and about seventy wounded, but Baurmeister puts it 
much higher — seventy killed and two hundred wounded. 
The Americans lost not far from eighty, of whom at least 

There were our advanced posts overlooking the country south. Washington 
states that he rode down to " our advanced posts " to direct matters. Where 
better could he do so than at Point of Rocks ? And in a sketch of the field 
preserved in the Stiles Diary, and reproduced among Mr. Jay's documents, 
Washington is given just that station where an earthwork had [been thrown 
up. To confirm this and also to locate the next point, we have a letter from 
Major Lewis Morris (Jay documents), in which he says : " Colonel Knowl- 
ton's regiment was attacked by the enemy upon a height a little to the south- 
west of Days's Tavern, and after opposing them bravely and being overpow- 
ered by their numbers they were forced to retreat, and the enemy advanced 
upon the top of the hill opposite to that which lies before Days's door, with 
a confidence of success, and after rallying their men by a bugle horn and rest- 
ing themselves a little while, they descended the hill," etc. In one of Christo- 
pher Collcs's road maps (published in the N. Y. Corporation Manual for 
1870, p. 778), Days's tavern is put directly opposite Point of Rocks on 
the King's Bridge Road, which fixes the hill occupied by the enemy as 
the north-cast bluff of Bloomingdalc Heights, or about One Hundred 
and Twenty-third Street, between Ninth and Tenth avenues. They 
ran down this bluff to fences and bushes at the edge of " a clear field." 
This was part of the' Kortwright farm, and the farm lines of 1812 show 
the same northern boundary that surveys show in 171 1. This northerly 
fence line is given in the accompanying map, and it will be noticed 
that it would be the natural line for the British Infantry to take in opposing 
Crary's party. The soldier Martin speaks of their taking a post and rail 
fence with a field in their rear. General George Clinton, who gives a clear 
description of the fighting from this point, also mentions this field and fence, 
but appears to have been mistaken in stating that the enemy were driven back 
to that position. They ran down the hill and look up that position. Then, 
when driven back, they retreated in the general direction of their first ad- 
vance — that is, towards their camp, passing through a buckwheat field and or- 



twenty-five were killed or mortally wounded. The loss 
in officers, besides Knowlton and Leitch, included Captain 
Gleason, of Nixon's Massachusetts, and Lieutenant Noel 
Allen, of Varnum's Rhode Island, both of whom were 
killed. Captain Lowe, of Ewing's Marylanders, was 
wounded, also Captain Gooch, of Varnum's, slightly. 
The heaviest loss fell upon Nixon's and Sargent's brigades, 
namely : Nixon's regiment, four killed ; Varnum's, four ; 
Hitchcock's, four ; Sargent's, one ; Bailey's, five, and two 
mortally wounded. Colonel Douglas lost three killed. 
Among the Marylanders there were twelve wounded and 
three missing. The loss in the Virginia detachment and 

chard to the Bloomingdalc Road, and not, as generally stated, to the high 
ground in Central Park east of Eighth Avenue. General Clinton says they 
fell back from the orchard " across a hollow and up another hill not far dis- 
tant from their own lines," which doubtless refers to undulations on Home- 
land's place, and possibly to the then hilly ground about One Hundred and 
Seventh Street and Eleventh Avenue. One of the Hessian accounts states 
that the Yagers who were sent to support the Light Infantry came into "a hot 
contest on Hoyland's Hill" — a reference clearly to Hogcland's lands ; and 
this with the fact that the Yagers and Grenadiers afterwards bivouacked " in 
the wood not far from Bloomingdalc," and that the British "encamped in 
two lines " at the same place, Indicates the point where the action terminated 
— namely, near Bloomingdalc, between Hogcland's and Apthorpe's. 

In regard to the beginning of the action, General Clinton, in his account, 
starts with a locality called " Martjc Davits Fly," and estimates distances 
from it. This name, more properly " Marntjc David's Vly," strictly described 
the round piece of meadow at the western end of the Hollow Way close to 
the Hudson. It formed part of Harlem Cove. Old deeds, acts, and surveys 
give the name and site exactly. Clinton speaks of the " Point of Martjc 
David's Fly " as if he had reference to a point of land in its vicinity, possibly 
the Point of Rocks, and from which he gives his distances. 

The name of the battle appears perhaps most frequently in modern 
accounts as that of Harlem Plains. Greene and others speak of it as the 
action of Harlem Heights or the heights of Harlem. As the movements 
were directed by Washington from the Heights, and as the fighting was 
done practically in defence of the Heights, this seems to be the proper 
name to adopt. Heath says the fighting took place "on the Heights west 
of Harlem Plains," and Washington, Clinton, and others make similar 
references to the high ground, showing that the affair was not associated 
with the Plains. 


the Rangers does not appear. General Clinton on the 
next day buried seventeen of our men on the field, and re- 
ported over fifty wounded. Lieutenant-Colonel Henshaw, 
of Little's regiment, simply writes to his wife in regard to 
the action, " I was there," and adds that our loss was one 
hundred. He puts the casualties in his brigade alone [Nix- 
on's] at seventy-five. All the troops behaved well. Greene 
speaks with pride of the conduct of his Rhode Islanders, 
Varnum's and Hitchcock's. Captain Gooch wrote to a 
friend enthusiastically, " The New England men have 
gained the first Laurells;" while Tilghman wrote with 
equal enthusiasm, " The Virginia and Maryland troops 
bear the Palm." In reality, palm and laurel belonged to 
both alike. 

Knowlton, on the 17th, was buried with the honors of 
war near the road on the hill slope, not far from the line 
of One Hundred and Forty-third Street, west of Ninth 
Avenue. Leitch died on the 1st of October, and is said 
to have been buried by Knowlton's side, where Major 
Thomas Henly, a Massachusetts officer, killed on Mon- 
trcssor's Island on September 23d, was also buried.' On 

1 Heath states that Henley was buried by Knowlton's side, and the spot is 
indicated in the orders of September 24th : " Thomas Henley will be buried 
this p.m. from the quarters of Maj. David Henley below the hill where the 
redoubt is thrown up, on the road." During the action of the 16th, troops 
were throwing up intrenchments across the island at about One Hundred 
ind Forty-fifth Street. This was the first and most southerly of the three 
lines constructed on the Heights. Sauthier's map, the authority in the 
case, shows this line with a battery across the King's Bridge Road, just at 
the top of what Is known as Breakneck Hill. It was on the slope of this 
hill that Knowlton and Henley were buried. Mr. Lossing puts his grave 
in one of the redoubts on the second line, afterwards included in Trinity 
Cemetery; but that line had not been thrown up when Knowlton died. 
(Silliman's letter of September 17th, P.M. Part II. .page 55.) Mr. Jay and 
others have suggested the erection of a monument to Knowlton and Leitch. 
No finer site could be found than the spot where they fell in Morningside 

Respecting M;-jor Henley, spoken of by Washington as "another of our 
best officers," see Glover's letter, Document 35. 

■— • ■" "" ~T'.'- ~ -';'"' 

262 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

the 22cl, Captain Nathan Hale, " the martyr-spy," was exe- 
cuted in New York. Finding Washington anxious to 
have information of the enemy's numbers and designs, 
Hale volunteered to enter their camp in disgiyfee. Cap- 
tured at the last moment as he was on the point of escape, 
lie frankly avowed his mission, and just before his execu- 
tion, on the Rutgers farm, he told the spectators around 
him that he only regretted he had but one life to give for 
his country. The war saw no more courageous or unsel- 
fish sacrifice. Few worthier of a monument than he! 

The battle of the 16th was followed by inactivity on the 
part of the British, and Washington securely established 
himself on Harlem Heights. The chief excitement was 
the occurrence of the great fire on the night of the 2ist of 
September, which broke out near Whitehall Slip, in New 
York, and destroyed a fourth of the city. In addition to 
accounts of the calamity already published and generally 
familiar, the experiences of Pastor Shewkirk, as given in 
his diary in the present work, will be read with interest. 



What now remains to be noticed as coming within the 
scope of the present narrative are those incidents which 
led to the evacuation of Harlem Heights by our army, 
and the subsequent capture of Fort Washington, by which 
the British finally came into the possession of the whole 
of New York Island. 

The American position at the Heights, strong by na- 
ture, was made still more so by defensive works. Three 
lines of intrenchments and redoubts were thrown across 
the island between One Hundred and Forty-fifth and 
One Hundred and Sixty-second streets ; batteries were 
built around King's Bridge, and at several points on the 
heights overlooking the Harlem ; and on the command- 
ing site on the line of One Hundred and Eighty-third 
Street, two hundred and thirty feet above, the Hudson, 
stood the powerful fortress called Fort Washington. 
Describing these - works more in detail, the first of the 
three lines, that furthest south, was the one already re- 
ferred to on which troops were digging during the ac- 
tion of Harlem Heights. It extended along the line of 
One Hundred and Forty-sixth Street. The second line, 
which was much stronger, was laid out a short distance 
above at One Hundred and Fifty-third Street. There 


264 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

were four redoubts in the line. Less than half a mile 
above, between One Hundred and Sixtieth and One Hun- 
dred and Sixty-second streets, and not extending east of 
Tenth Avenue, or the old Post Road, was the third line. 
It mainly commanded the depression in the heights 
which is now known as Audubon Park, and included no 
redoubts. In addition to this triple line, there were 
single breastworks and batteries at various points from 
Point of Rocks north, along the ridge. The high and 
rugged bank of the Harlem overlooking the present 
High Bridge was known as Laurel Hill, and at the 
northern extremity, at One Hundred and Ninety-second 
Street, there was an American battery, which the British 
afterwards named Fort George. On the west side, at 
One Hundred and Ninety-sixth Street, there was a small 
battery which became Fort Tryon. On the further side 
o f \ Spuyten Duyvil Creek stood Fort Independence, 
commanding King's Bridge and its approaches. ' 

Fort Washington was a large, five-sided work with bas- 
tions, strong by virtue of its position, and important as 
commanding the passage of the Hudson in connection 
with Fort Lee (first named Constitution), opposite, on the 
summit of the Palisades on the Jersey side. Much labor 
had been expended upon it, and it was generally regarded 
as impregnable. The obstructions in the river consisted 
mainly of a line of vessels chained together, loaded with 
stone, and then sunk and anchored just below the surface 

* ihc position of the various works at Harlem Heights appears on 
Sauthicr's plan which seems to have accompanied Howe's report of the 
capture of Fort Washington. Good copies of it may be found in Stcdman's 
history and in the New York Revolutionary MS., vol. i. In 1812, when 
Randall surveyed the island, many of these works were still traceable. He 
gives parts of the second and third lines. Fort Washington and the others 
above, all of which agree with Sauthicr's locations. Some of the works 
remain well preserved to-day. 



of the river. It was expected that they would resist the 
passage of the British ships, which would thus be also 
brought to a stop under the guns from either shore, and 
made to suffer heavily. Both the Continental Congress 
and the Provincial Congress of New York had urged 
that no means or expense should be spared to make the 
obstructions effectual, in view of the serious results that 
would follow the enemy's possession of the river above. 

Nearly a month now had elapsed since the retreat of 
our army to Harlem Heights, and the British had made 
no further progress. They had in the mean time thrown 
up a series of works across the island in front of their 
main camps at Bloomingdale and McGowan's Pass, 
which could be defended by a comparatively small force. 
On the 9th, however, they showed indications of talcing 
the field again by sending two frigates up the Hudson. 
In spite of the sunken obstructions, the ships made their 
way through without difficulty. Then, on the morning 
of the 1 2th, Howe embarked the greater part of his army 
in boats, and passing through Hell Gat£, under cover of 
a fog, landed on Throg's Neck, an arm of the Westches- 
ter coast, about six miles above. Percy was left to pro- 
tect New York with three brigades. By this move the 
British general placed himself on Washington's flank in 
Westchester County, and threatened his communica- 
tions. But the Neck was a poor selection for a landing- 
place.' It was practically an island, the crossings to the 

1 " Frog's Neck and Point is a kind of island ; there are two passages 
to the main which are fordahln at low water, at both of which we have thrown 
up works, which will give some annoyance should they attempt 10 come off 
by either of these ways." — Tilghman to William Duer, October 13th, 1776. 
MS. Letter. On hearing that they had landed on the Neck, Duer replied from 
the Convention at Peekskill, on the 15th : " There appears to me an actual 
fatality attending all their measures. One would have naturally imagined 
from the Traitors they have among them, yVho are capable of giving them the 

f- . . . - — -_--,_-.- , 

266 CAMPAIGN OF 177C. 

mainland being a causeway and fords, the opposite 
approaches of which were fortified by the Americans. 
Colonel Hand's riflemen had pulled up the planks on the 
bridges, and Prescott's Massachusetts were ready behind 
breastworks to resist any attempt on the part of the 
enemy to cross. Here the British wasted five days in 
collecting their stores, while the Americans kept a suffi- 
cient force to meet them at the causeway and vicinity. 
Among other regiments which relieved each other at 
this point were Nixon's, Varnum's, Malcom's, Gra- 
ham's, and Ritzema's. 

During and for some time before these movements an 
interesting correspondence was carried on between Wash- 
ington's head-quarters and a committee of the Ne\.' York 
Convention, a portion of which may be introduced in 
this connection. It gives us a glimpse of the deep inter- 
est and anxiety felt in the Convention in matters affecting 
the protection of the State, and the internal difficulties 
that had to be encountered. The correspondence was 
conducted mainly between Lieutenant Tilghman for head- 
quarters and Hon. William Duer for the Convention. 1 
Thus, on September 20th, the latter writes to Tilghman 
as follows : 

most minute description of the Grounds in the county of Westchester, that 
they would have landed much farther to the Eastward. Had they pushed 
their imaginations to discover the worst place, they could not have succeeded 
better than they have done." — MS. Letter. 

1 The Convention's Committee on Correspondence consisted of William 
Ducr, R. R. Livingston, Egbert Benson, and two others. Nearly all of 

Tilghman's letters to the .nittcc have been published either in Force or in 

the Proceedings of the N. Y. Provincial Congress. Of Ducr's replies, how- 
ever, but few arc in print, the originals being in the possession of Oswald 
TilRhman, Esq., of Easton, Talbot County, Md., to whom the writer is under 
obligations for the favor of quoting the extracts given in the text. (Sec bio- 
graphical sketch of Colonel Tilghman.) \ 


" I can easily imagine that Gen 1 Howe must be both chagrined 
and disappointed at the Retreat of our Army from New York. I 
have no doubt but what he expected fully to have taken them in a 
net ; and he certainly would have succeeded had we pertinaciously 
persisted in the plan of defending the city. You observe that if 
the passage of the North River is sufficiently obstructed that our 
lines will keep the enemy from making any progress in front. 
This is certainly true ; but you must recollect that the Sound is, 
and must ever be, open ; and if they should succeed in landing a 
Body of Men in Westchester County, they might, by drawing lines 
to the North River, as effectually hem us in, as if we were in New 
York. From Sutton's Neck to the North River (if 1 am not mis- 
taken) is not above twelve miles." 

' Again on the 2d of October, speaking of the possibility 
of the enemy's getting on our flank or rear, Duer says : 

" I wish they would delay this attempt till Gen 1 . Lee arrives, or 
till Mifflin comes from Philad". I am sensible that however great 
General Washington's abilities and vigilance are, he must stand in 
need of the assistance of such excellent officers. Is Gen 1 Greene 
with the Army, or is he still in Jersey ? If he could be spared 
from that quarter his presence, I think, would be of great conse- 
quence. . I am much mistaken, if he is notpossest of that Heaven- 
born Genius which is necessary to constitute a great General. — I 
can scarcely describe to you my feelings at this interesting Period 
— -what, with the situation of our enemies in your quarter and the 
cursed machinations of our Internal Foes, the fate of this State 
hangs on a single battle of importance." 

Again on the 8th : 

" I am sorry to tell you (for the credit of this State) that the 
Committee I belong to make daily fresh discoveries of the in- 
fernal Practices of our Enemies to excite Insurrections amongst 
the inhabitants of the State. To-morrow one Company, actually 
enlisted in the enemy's service, will be marched to Philadelphia, 
there to be confined in jail, till the establishment of our Courts 
enables us to hang the Ringleaders." 

I ■" - p » w>»» w »ww wpwW|Dm 

268 CAMPAIGN OF 1776. 

And on the following day Robert R. Livingston added 
on this subject : 

" Tlio' we are constantly employed in the detection of trea- 
sons, yet plots multiply upon us daily, and we have reason every 
moment to dread an open rebellion. We have ordered troops to 
be raised but fear they will be too slow in coming, and that we 
shall be under the disagreeable necessity of asking a small and 
temporary aid from the Gen 1 ; but we shall defer this till reduced 
to the last extremity." 

When the ships went up the river on the 9th, it was 
feared they had troops on board who might make an 
attempt on the Highlands, whereupon Duer wrote on the 
10th : 

" In this [attempt] they will undoubtedly be joined by the 
villains in Westchester and Duchess County ; it is therefore of the 
utmost consequence that a Force should be immediately detached 
from the main body of our army to occupy these posts. . . . 
By the Influence and Artifices of the capital tories of this State 
the majority of Inhabitants in those counties are ripe for a 

But with a stout heart Duer continues : 

" It is our Duty, however, to struggle against the tide of adver- 
sity, and to exert ourselves with vigour adequate to our circum- 
stances. This, as an Individual, I am determined to do in the 
Capacity in which I am at present acting, and I have no doubt 
those friends I have in the military line will do the same. We are 
not to expect to purchase our Liberties at a cheaper rate than 
other nations have done, or that our soldiers should be Heaven 
born more than those of other nations. Experience will make us 
both have and win ; and in the end teach Great Britain that in 
attempting to enslave us she is aiming a dagger at her own vitals.'J 

On the 1 2th, before >e heard of the landing at Throg's 
Neck, he wrote to Tilghman : 


"Notwithstanding the enemy had, agreeable to your last ad- 
vices, sent no vessels up the Sound, depend upon it, they will en- 
deavor to make an attack upon your Flanks by means of Hud- 
son's and the East River. ... If General Lee is returned 
from the Southward and arrived at your camp (which I suppose 
to be the case) I beg my affectionate compliments to him. I 
wish to Heaven I could come and see you, but I am so embar- 
rassed with the Committee I am engaged in that I have not 
hardly an hour, much less a few days to spare. This morning we 
marched off a Company of men, who had been enlisted to join the 
Battalion to be raised by Major Rogers, to the City of Philadel- 
phia. We have an admirable clue of their abominable conspira- 
cies, and (however late this undertaking has been) I hope by spirit 
and perseverance we may baffle their wretched Plots of occasioning 
a revolt in this State." ' 

On the 13th, Tilghman wrote to Duer : 

" When your favor of the 10th came to hand, I was attending 
his Excellency, who was obliged to ride up'fo West Chester upon 
the Alarm of the Enemy's Landing at Frog's Point. . . 
From their not moving immediately forward, I imagine they are 
waiting for their artillery and stores, which must be very consid- 
erable if they seriously intend to set down in the country upon 
our rear. The grounds leading from Frog's Point towards our 
Post at King's bridge are as defensible as they can be wished. 
The roads are all lined with stone fences and the adjacent Fields 
divided off with stone [fences] likewise, which will make it impos- 
sible for them to advance their artillery and ammunition waggons 
by any other Rout than the great roads, and I think if they are 
well lined with troops, we may make a Considerable Slaughter if 
not discomfit them totally. Our riflemen have directions to at- 

1 As evidence of the estimation in which Lee was held at this time, Duer 
writes on the 15th to Colonel Harrison : " I beg my affectionate compliments 
to Gen 1 Lee, whom I sincerely congratulate on his arrival in camp — partly 
on account of himself as he will have it in his [power] to reap a fresh Harvest 
of Laurels, and more on account of his Country which looks to him as one of 
the brave assertcrs of her dearest rights." — MS. Letter. 

Lee had just returned from South Carolina, and was associated by the 
army with the bra ye defence of Charleston harbor. The honor of that affair, 
however, belonged entirely to Moultrie. 


tend particularly to taking clown their Horses, which if done, will 
impede their inarch effectually. Our troops are in good spirits 
and seem inclined and determined to dispute every inch of 

On the 15th he wrote to Ducr again as follows, after 
informing him that the enemy had not moved from the 
Neck : 

" From the number of vessels that have been continually pass- 
ing up the Sound we conclude that they are transporting cannon 
and stores necessary to enable them to penetrate the country and 
set down in our rear. To hinder them from effecting this, Gen 1 
Lee, who arrived yesterday, has taken the command in that quar- 
ter. He will be posted in such a situation with a very considera- 
ble number of Light Troops that, let the Enemy advance by what 
road they will, they cannot elude him ; if they march in one great 
body he can easily draw his Divisions tog^her ; if they divide and 
take different Routs, they will fall in with the different parties. 
He'will have the Flower of the Army with him, as our lines in 
front are so strong that we can trust them to Troops who would 
not stand in the field." 

Duer, on the 17th, replied : 

" I expect daily to hear of some grand attempt made by the 
Enemy. ... If one half of our army think as much of the 
Importance of the approaching Contest as you do, I shall enter- 
tain no Doubt of our success. May Heaven protect you, and all 
my Friends who are venturing their Lives in so great and good a 

On the same date Tilffhman wrote : 


" I have not time to describe the Disposition of our Army per- 
fectly to you, but you may depend that every step is taken to pre- 
vent the enemy from outflanking us and at the same time to 
secure our Retreat in case of need. The Enemy have made no 
move from Frog's Point. ... I don't know how it is, but I 
believe their design to circumvent us this time will prove as abor- 


tive as the former ones. If we can but foil Gen 1 Howe again, I 
think we knock him up for the Campaign. You ask if Gen 1 Lee 
is in Health and our people feel bold ? I answer both in the 
affirmative. His appearance among us has not contributed a little 
to the latter. We are sinking the ships as fast as possible ; 200 
men are daily employed, but they take an immense quantity of 
stone for the purpose." 

To meet this move upon their Hank and rear, the Amer- 
icans were obliged to abandon their strong camp at Har- 
lem Heights. On the 16th, while the British were still 
at Throg's Neck, Washington called a council of war, 
when it was agreed that they could not keep their com- 
munications open with the back country, if they remain- 
ed where they were and the British advanced. At the 
same it was voted to hold Fort Washington. To be 
ready to counteract the next move of the enemy, a part 
of the army was stationed at advantageous points in 
Westchester County, the main camps being extended 
along the hills west of the Bronx River. Both Valentine's 
Hill and Miles Square were occupied and fortified. 

On the 1 8th, Howe left Throg's Neck and transferred 
his army further eastward to Pell's Point below New 
Rochellc. The Light Infantry advanced from the coast, 
but were faced by Glover's brigade from behind stone 
walls, and made to suffer some loss. 1 Glover and his men 
were complimented for their conduct both by Washington 
and Lee. The enemy again delayed in the vicinity of 
East Chester and New Rochelle until the 22d. 

Wishing exact information of the position of the enemy 
and of the topography of the country, the commander-in- 

1 In this skirmish Captain Evelyn, the British officer who captured the 
patrol of American officers on Long Island, was mortally wounded, and died 
soon after, much regretted. lie is supposed to have been buried in New 

272 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

chief, on the morning of the 20th, requested Colonel 
Reed and Colonel Putnam, his engineer, to undertake a 
rcconnoissance in person. Setting out from King's 
Bridge with a foot-guard of twenty men, these officers 
proceeded to the heights at East Chester, where they 
saw some of the enemy near the church, but could ob- 
tain no intelligence. The houses in the vicinity were 
deserted. From this point Reed returned to attend to 
his office duties, while Putnam, disguising his appear- 
ance as an officer by taking out his cockade, loping his 
hat, and concealing his sword and pistols under his loose 
coat, continued on alone in the direction of White Plains. 
Learning from a woman at a house that the British were 
at New Rochelle, he passed on to within three or four 
miles of White Plains, where he met some " friends to the 
cause" and ascertained the general situation. " I found," 
he writes, " that the main body of the British lay near 
New Rochelle, from thence to White Plains about nine 
miles, good roads and in general level open country, that 
at White Plains was a large quantity of stores, with only 
about three hundred militia to guard them, that the Brit- 
ish had a detachment at Mamaroncck only six miles from 
White Plains, and from White Plains only five miles to 
the North River, where lay five or six of the enemies 
ships and sloops, tenders, etc. Having made these dis- 
coveries, I set out on my return." Reporting this in- 
formation to the commander-in-chief about nine o'clock in 
the evening, Colonel Putnam retired to " refresh" him- 
self and horse, only to receive orders soon after to pro- 
ceed immediately to Lord Stirling's brigade, 1 now in 

1 Stirling, who with Sullivan had recently been exchanged as prisoner, 
was now in command of Mifflin's brigade, Mifflin being absent in Philadel- 


Spencer's division, which had already advanced on the 
road towards White Plains. He reached Stirling at two 
o'clock that night, and at dawn the general pushed on to 
White Plains-, arriving there about nine o'clock on the 
morning of the 21st. Washington himself and Heath's 
division followed during the day, and the troops set to 
work throwing up lines at that important point. By 
delaying near New Rochelle, Howe had missed his op- 
portunity. During the night of the 21st, Colonel Haslet, 
of Stirling's brigade, surprised and captured some thirty 
men belonging to the partisan Rogers' Scouts, and soon 
after Colonel Hand with his now veteran riflemen proved 
himself more than a match for an equal party of yagers 
encountered near Mamaroneck. In the first of these 
skirmishes, Major Greene, a fine Virginia officer, was 
mortally wounded. 

Washington concentrated his army at White Plains, 
completed two lines of works, with his right on the river 
Bronx, and awaited the advance of the , British. Howe 
had moved from New Rochelle to Scarsdalc, and on the 
morning of the 28th marched against the Americans. A 
mile or more from White Plains, on the main road to New 
York, he fell in with General Spencer's advance parties 
under Colonels Silliman, Douglas,' and Chester, who offer- 
ed resistance and lost some men, but they were driven back 
by superior numbers. On the left of the American position, 
across the Bronx, rose Chatterton's Hill, which offered a 
good site for the better defence of that flank. Colonel 
Putnam had just arrived on the hill to throw up works 
when the cnen.v made their appearance below.' Ac- 

1 Sec letters of these officers, Documents 17, 22. Also Tallmadtfc's 
account, Document 26. 

'' " October 2<jth [28th] the Britisli advanced in front of our lines at White 
Plains about 10 o'clock a.m. I had just arrived on Chattcrton Hill in order 

2/4 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

cording to Haslet, the Dclawarcs were the first troops 
to report on this hill, where they took post with one of 
General Lincoln's Massachusetts militia regiments, under 
Colonel Brooks, on their right. They were followed im- 
mediately by McDougall's brigade, consisting of what 
was lately his own battalion, which had no field offi- 
cers, Ritzema's, Smallwood's, and Webb's. The troops 
formed along the brow of the hill, and stood waiting for 
the enemy. The two-gun batter)' brought up at the same 
time was Captain Alexander Hamilton's. 

The British marched up in brilliant array towards 
Washington's position, but unexpectedly declined to make 
an attack in front, although the centre was our weakest 
point. Chatterton's Hill appeared to engage Howe's 
attention at once, and it became the first object of capture. 
The troops assigned for this purpose were the Second Brit- 
ish brigade and Hessians under Donop,Rall, and Lossberg, 
in all about four thousand men. They crossed the Bronx, 
under cover of their artillery, and prepared to ascend the 
somewhat abrupt face of the hill on the other side. Mc- 
Dougall's men reserved their fire until the enemy were 
within short range, when they poured a destructive 
shower of bullets upon them. The British recoiled, but 
moved up again to the attack, while Rail came around 

to throw up some works when they hove in sight; as soon as they discovered 
us they commenced a severe cannonade but without any effect of conse- 
quence. General McDougal about this time arriving with his brigade from 
Burns's and observing the British to be crossing the Bronx below in large 
bodies in order to attack us, our troops were posted to receive them in a 
very advantageous position. The British in their advance were twice re- 
pulsed ; at length, however, their numbers were increased so that they were 
able to turn our right flank. V\ N lost many men, but from information after- 
wards received there was reason to believe they lost many more than we. 
The rail and stone fence behind which our troops were posted proved as 
fatal to the British as the rail fence and grass hung on it did at Charlcstown 
the 17th of June 1775." — Colonel Rufus Putnam, Document 43. 



more on the left, and after a brisk fight, in which the mil- 
itia facing Rail failed to stand their ground, they suc- 
ceeded in compelling McDougall to retreat. Mad the 
militia held their own, the fight might have been another 
Bunker Hill for the enemy. As it was, Colonel Putnam 
compared it to that engagement. In falling back, Mc- 
Dougall suffered some loss, but the whole force escaped 
to the right of our lines, with fewer casualties than they 
inflicted on the enemy. The latter lost about two hun- 
dred and thirty; the Americans something over one hun- 
dred and forty. Colonel Smallwood was wounded, and 
lost two of his captains, killed. Ritzema's New York 
Continentals suffered the most, having made a brave 
fight. Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel B. Webb, of Wethers- 
field, Ct., one* of Washington's aids, who had shown his 
coolness under fire on Bunker Hill, was slightly wounded 
and had a horse shot under him while carrying orders.' 

This affair on Chatterton's Hill is known as the Bat- 
tle of White Plains. On the side of the Americans, not 
more than sixteen hundred troops were engaged, but the 
action was an important one, as it had the effect of 
changing the direction of future operations." 

On the following day, the 29th, Howe waited for rein- 
forcements. On the 30th, the rain postponed an intended 
attack. On the 31st the weather proved fine about noon, 
but the British General " did not think proper to put his 
former intentions in cxeci <ion." The next morning, No- 
vember 1st, there was a further excuse for not attacking : 
Washington during the night had fallen back to the almost 

1 Statement of his son, General James Watson Webb, of New York. 

2 The details of the various movements in Westchester County would fill a 
long and interesting chapter ; but in the present connection not more than 
an outline can be attempted. 

276 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

unassailable heights of North Castle, in his rear. Howe 
was thus again baffled in his attempt to bring the Ameri- 
cans to a decisive engagement, or to surround them, and 
he now turned his attention to another line of campaign. 
Stedman, the British historian, probably gives the correct 
reason why Washington was not followed. The Ameri- 
can position, he says, was now " so advantageous that 
any attack on them must have proved unsuccessful, for 
the river Croton stretched along their front, and their 
rear was defended by woods and heights. Convinced 
that it was part of the enemy's system studiously to avoid 
an action, and that their knowledge of the country en- 
abled them to execute this system with advantage, Gen- 
eral Howe resolved to cease an ineffectual pursuit, and 
employ himself in the reduction of King's Bridge and 
Fort Washington." This accomplished, he could then 
push on to Philadelphia and close the year's operations with 
the occupation of that place. The capture of two cities, 
the successive defeats inflicted upon the Americans, and 
the good prospect of ending the rebellion in the next 
campaign, would be a brilliant military record with which 
to gratify the home government. 

Fort Washington. 

Howe broke up his camp near White Plains on No- 
vember 5th, and marched west to the Hudson at Dobb's 
Ferry. Knyphauscn, who had lately arrived with a 
second division of " foreigners," had already been de- 
spatched to King's Bridge. After various movements 
and delays, the entire British force also moved on the 
1 2th to the immediate vicinity of the bridge, and dis- 
positions were made to attack and capture Fort Wash- 


ington. On the 15th, Howe sent a summons for the sur- 
render of the fort, in which he intimated that a refusal 
to comply would justify the putting of the garrison to the 

The commander of Fort Washington was Colonel Rob- 
ert Magaw, of Pennsylvania. In addition to his own 
regiment and Colonel Shee's, now under Lieutenant- 
Colonel Cadwallader, he had with him several detach- 
ments of troops from the Pennsylvania Flying Camp, 
under Colonels Baxter, Swoope, and others, together 
with a Maryland rifle battalion, under Colonel Rawlings, 
whose major was Otho Holland Williams, an officer dis- 
tinguished later in the war. The artillery numbered 
about one hundred men, under Captain Pierce, and there 
were also the " Rangers," parts of Miles's and Atlee's old 
regiments, such as escaped the Long Island defeat, and 
about two hundred and fifty from Bradley's Connecticut 
levies, many of whom were to die in captivity. The 
whole force under Magaw numbered about twenty-eight 
hundred officers and men. The ground they were ex- 
pected to hold was that part of Harlem Heights from 
the first of the three lines already described, northward 
to the end of Laurel Hill on the Harlem, and the hill 
west on the Hudson, a distance of two miles and a half. 

At the lower lines at One Hundred and Forty-sixth 
Street, Cadwallader's men, the Rangers, and some others 
were posted ; at Laurel Hill, Colonel Baxter, and west 
of him, at the northern termination of the level summit 
of the ridge where Fort Washington stood, was Colonel 
Rawlings. Magaw remained at the fort to direct move- 
ments during the attack. The outer defences where 
the troops were stationed were to be held as long as pos- 
sible, while the fort and the intrenchments immediately 


278 CAMPAIGN OF I//6. 

surrounding it were to be the point of retreat. Magaw 
believed he could hold the post against almost any force 
until December, and when the summons for a surrender 
reached him he returned the following spirited reply : 

"15 November, 1776. 

" Sir : If I rightly understand the purport of your message from 
General Howe communicated to Colonel Swoope, this post is to 
be immediately surrendered or the garrison put to the sword. I 
rather think it a mistake than a settled resolution in General Howe 
to act a part so unworthy of himself and the British Nation. But 
give me leave to assure his Excellency that actuated by the most 
glorious cause that mankind ever fought in, I am determined to 
defend this post to the last extremity. 

" Rob't Magaw, Colonel Commanding. 

"To the Adjutant-General of the British Army." 

On the morning of the 16th, the enemy opened the 
attack from three directions. 1 The Hessians moved for- 
ward from King's Bridge against Rawlings' position, 
Rail on the right nearest to the Hudson, Knyphausen a 
short distance to his left nearer the King's Bridge road. 
Brigadier-General Matthews, supported by Cornwallis, 
came down the Harlem from the bridge in boats, and 
landed at the foot of Laurel Hill (One Hundred and 
Ninety-sixth Street), where Baxter was posted. These 
formed the attacking columns from the north side. On 
the south side Percy marched up from Harlem Plains 
and engaged Cadwallader at the lower lines. 

At about the moment the cannonade began, Wash- 
ington, Putnam, Greene, and Mercer were putting off 
from the Jersey shore at Fort Lee to make a final visit to 
Fort Washington, and determine whether to defend or 
evacuate the post. When they reached the island they 

' Consult " Map of New York," etc., Part II. 


found the threatened attack in actual progress, and evac- 
uation then was out of the question. They saw Percy 
making his dispositions, and could sec nothing to modify 
on their own side. All they could do was to await the 
result. " There," says Greene, " we all stood in a very 
awkward situation." Mad they remained much longer it 
would have been more than awkward. Putnam, Greene, 
and Mercer felt that Washington at least ought not to 
be exposed in a position which might become dangerous, 
and they all urged him to return to Fort Lee, while each 
in turn offered to stay and conduct the defence. But the 
chief, who never wished to hold the fort as an isolated post, 
foresaw the possible, if not the probable, result of the 
British attack as clearly as his generals, and he advised 
the return of the entire party. Entering their boat they 
were rowed back to the Jersey side. 1 

The fighting began under a heavy fire from the enemy's 
artillery posted at advantageous points, both on the island 
and on the east side of the Harlem River. The several 
columns pushed forward nearly at the same time. Rail 
and Knyphausen encountered the most serious obstacles, 
and met with the most obstinate resistance. Their course 
lay through woods and underbrush and heavy abattis, 
felled by the Americans. As they approached Rawlings, 
his men received them with a destructive and determined 
fire, which lasted a long time. Rail's force, including 
the newly arrived Waldeckers, fought desperately, and, as 
Cornwallis afterwards declared, " to the admiration of 
the entire British army." a Knyphausen led his men and 
tore down obstructions with his own hands. Matthews 

1 Read the letter Greene wrote to Knox on the following day. — Docu- 
ment 36. 

' Testimony of Cornwallis before Parliamentary Committee on Howe's 
case in 1779. 

280 CAMPAIGN OF 1 7/6. 

and Cornwallis climbed up the steep hill, and drove back 
Baxter's men ; but not before Baxter had fallen while 
fighting manfully. Percy, with whose column Lord 
Howe had taken his station, held Cadwallader's attention 
and made some progress in that direction, when Howe 
ordered a fourth column, consisting of the Forty-second 
Highlanders, under Lieutenant-Colonel Sterling, and two 
supporting regiments, to cross Harlem River, and at- 
tempt to land between Cadwallader and Fort Washing- 
ton. This movement was successfully conducted under 
difficulties. The Highlanders rushed up the steep side 
of Harlem Heights just below the Morris Mansion, and 
captured over one hundred and fifty of the Americans 
whom Cadwallader and Magaw had detached to oppose 
them. Sterling's force, however, suffered considerably 
in making the landing. By this attack in flank, Cadwal- 
lader could maintain his position no longer, and his entire 
party retreated rapidly towards the fort. 

Knyphausen and Rail, meanwhile, succeeded in driving 
back Rawlings, who had made the best resistance during 
the day, and the former soon reached Fort Washington, 
where all the Americans had now retreated. The Ger- 
man general at once sent in a summons for surrender, and 
Magaw finding that the fort was so crowded with his 
beaten troops, and that it was impossible to attempt fur- 
ther resistance without great sacrifice of life, agreed to a 
capitulation on favorable terms, officers and men to be 
guaranteed personal safety and allowed to retain private 

1 Washington, who with his officers watched the fighting from Fort Lcc, 
sent over Captain Gooch to tell Magaw to maintain himself until night, when 
an effort would be made to withdraw the garrison to New Jersey. The cap- 
tain readied the fort, delivered his message, and, running through the fire 
of the enemy, got to his boat again and recrossed in safety. 


By this surrender the Americans lost in prisoners two 
thousand six hundred and thirty-seven enlisted men and 
two hundred and twenty-one officers/ the greater part 
from Pennsylvania, and nearly half of them well-drilled 
troops. These were the men, with those taken on Long 
Island and at Kip's Bay, for whose accommodation the 
Presbyterian and Reformed churches in New York were 
turned into prisons, and who were to perish by hundreds 
by slow starvation and loathsome disease, which brutal 
keepers took little trouble to alleviate. The loss of the 
enemy in killed and wounded was something over four 
hundred and fifty, about two thirds of which fell upon 
the Hessians. The American casualties were four offi- 
cers and fc fifty privates killed, and not over one hundred 

Upon whom the responsibility for the loss of this post 
should rest is a question on which divided opinions have 
been expressed.* Greene had urged the retention of the 

1 Henshaw's copy of return of prisoners. — Document No. 59. 

* Two weeks before the attack on the fort, Magaw's adjutant, William 
Demont, deserted to the enemy. This fact has lately been established by 
the recovery, by Mr. Edward F. de Lancey, of the New York Historical 
Society, of Demont's own letter confessing the desertion. It is dated 
London, January 16th, 1792, and is in part as follows: 

"On the 2d of Nov'r 1776 I Sacrificed all I was Worth in the World to 
the Service of my King & Country and joined the then Lord Percy, 
brought in with me the Plans of Fort Washington, by which Plans that 
Fortress was taken by his Majesty's Troops the 16 instant, Together with 
2700 Prisoners and Stores & Ammunition to the amount of 1800 Pound. 
At the same time, I may with Justice affirm, from my Knowledge of the 
Works, I saved the Lives of many of His Majesty's Subjects — these Sir are 
facts well-known to every General Officer which was there." 

Mr. De Lancey makes this letter the text of a detailed and highly inter- 
esting account of the fall of Fort Washington (published in the Magazine 
of American History, February, 1877), in which (he new theory is advanced 
that the disaster was duo in the first instance to Demont's treason. It is 
quite probable, as the deserter claimed, that his information was of some 

282 CAMPAIGN OF 1776. 

fort as necessary, both to command the passage of the 
river, and because it would be a threatening obstacle to 
the enemy's future operations. For them to advance into 
the country with such a fortification in their rear would 
be a hazardous move. These reasons were sound, and, 
as already stated, when the main army evacuated Har- 
lem Heights, Washington's council voted to retain Fort 
Washington. But on the 7th of November, some British 
men-of-war again passed the obstructions without diffi- 
culty, and Washington wrote to Greene on the 8th from' 
White Plains as follows : 

" Sir : The late passage of the three vessels up the North River 
(which we have just received advice of) is so plain a proof of the 
inefficacy of all the obstructions we have thrown into it, that I 
cannot but think it will fully justify a change in the disposition 
which has been made. If we cannot prevent vessels passing up, 
and the enemy are possessed of the surrounding country, what val- 
uable purpose can it answer to attempt to hold a post from which, 
the expected benefit cannot be had ? I am therefore inclined to, 
think it will not be prudent to hazard the men and stores at Mount 
Washington ; but as you are on the spot, leave it to you to give 
such orders as to evacuating Mount Washington as you judge best, 
and so far revoking the order given to Col. Magaw to defend it to 
the last." 

General Greene on the following day replied that he 
did not think the garrison in any danger, and that it could 

use to the British general in making his dispositions for the attack, but 
beyond this the incident could hardly have affected the situation on either 
side. Up to the night preceding the assault, Howe did not know whether 
the Americans would remain in the fort or not. Indeed, he gave them the 
opportunity to evacuate it by allowing a whole night to intervene between 
the summons to surrender and the attack. He could not, therefore, have 
changed his plans, as alleged, in the confident expectation of taking a large 
garrison prisoners and sending home word of another great victory. Fort 
Washington was simply in his way, and he would have moved against it 
under any circumstances, regardless of Demont and his treachery. 


be drawn off at any time. He believed, too, that the 
stores could be removed at the last moment, in spite of 
an attack ; and again he called attention to the advan- 
tage of holding the post as an annoyance to the enemy. 
No further communications passed on the subject, but 
Washington rode to the Highlands, and, returning on 
the Jersey side of the Hudson, reached Greene's head- 
quarters at Fort Lee on the 14th, to find no steps taken 
to withdraw men or stores from Mount Washington. 
Had the enemy in the mean time invested and captured 
the fort, it is pertinent to inquire whether Greene, hav- 
ing been acquainted with the distinct wishes of the com- 
mander-in-chief not to hazard the post, could not have 
been justly and properly charged with its loss. Wash- 
ington's instructions were discretionary only so far as 
related to the details or perhaps the time of the evacua- 
tion ; and to leave Greene free, he revoked the order *> 
already given to Magaw to defend the fort to the last. 
Upon the arrival of Washington at Fort Lee, however, 
one phase of the question changed. By not renewing his 
instructions to evacuate the mount when he found that 
nothing had been done in the case, or not making the 
instructions peremptory, he entirely relieved Greene of 
the charge of non-compliance, which could have been 
brought against him before. The commander-in-chief 
was now present, and Greene was no longer under in- 
structions, discretionary or otherwise. Washington ac- 
cepted the situation as he now found it, and was recon- 
sidering the propriety of a total evacuation. Finding 
Greene, of whose military judgment he had " a good 
opinion," strong in favor of holding the post, and others 
agreeing with him, among whom evidently were Putnam, 
Mercer, and Magaw, and knowing that Congress and the 

L»u !■ ii n» nn» iiminnMii 1 1 ii Turn ■— — — — — — ™— a^— ^a^M^^^na^^^^ 

284 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

country would not easily be reconciled to its abandon- 
ment, Washington hesitated for the moment to enforce 
his own views and opinions. On the 14th and 15th, he 
still delayed a final decision. So says Greene. V His Ex- 
cellency General Washington," he writes, " has been 
with me several days. The evacuation or reinforcement 
of Fort Washington was under consideration, but finally 
nothing concluded on ;" and it was not until the morn- 
ing of the 16th, just at the time of the attack, that they all 
went over to the fort V to determine what was best to be 
done." This clearly settles the fact that Greene was not 
under instructions at the time of the surrender of the 

But at the same time, upon a review of all the circum- 
stances, it is difficult to escape the conviction that bu;t 
for General Greene's earnest opposition to an abandon-* 
ment of the fort, the disaster would not have occurred. 
It was an error of judgment, an over-confidence in the 
sufficiency of the preparations made for the defence, and m 
a belief that if matters came to the worst the garrisbn 
could be withdrawn in spite of the enemy. That Greene 
himself felt that he would be held largely accountable 
for the loss of the post, is evident from his own expres- 
sions in the letter he wrote to Knox on the next day. 
" I feel mad, vexed, sick, and sorry," are his words. 
" Never did I need the consoling voice of a friend more 
than now. Happy should I be to see you. This is a 
most terrible event ; its consequences are justly to be 
dreaded. Pray, what is said upon the occasion ?" ' 

'This is what Tilghman said upon the occasion : " The loss of the post is 
nothing compared to the loss of men and arms, and the damp it will strike 
upon the minds of many. We were in a fair way of finishing the campaign 
with credit to ourselves and I think to the disgrace of Mr. Howe, and had 
the General followed his own opinion the garrison would have been with- 


There were those who censured Washington for not 
overruling Greene, but the chief kept his counsels to 
himself, and it was not until nearly three years later, in 
August, 1779, that he gave his version of the affair in a 
private letter to Colonel Reed. In that he frankly ad- 
mits that Greene's representations and other reasons 
caused a "warfare" and " hesitation" in his mind, by 
which the evacuation was delayed until too late. But 
he indulged in no censures on Greene. His confidence 
in the latter remained steadfast. The disaster was one 
of those misfortunes which occur in the career of every 
great general, and become, indeed, a step by which he 
rises to greatness. Greene, more than any general of 
the Revolution, learned by experience. Every battle, 
whether a defeat or victory, was for him a training- 
school ; and at the close of the war we find him ranking 
hardly second to the commander-in-chief, in military 
talents, and enjoying nearly an equal reputation for his 

This disaster at Fort Washington, the heaviest suffered 
by the Americans during the entire war, closed the cam- 
paign in the vicinity of New York. All the western part 
of Long Island, New York City, and all Manhattan Isl- 
and, had fallen into the possession of the British, and 
their fleet came into undisturbed control of the Hudson, 
the East River, and the waters of the Sound. Every thing 
that Washington and his soldiers had sought to secure 
and defend was wrested from their hands. Their losses 

drawn immediately upon the enemy's falling down from Dobb's Ferry ; but 
Gen'l Greene was positive that our forces might at any time be drawn off 
under the guns of Fort Lee. Fatal experience has evinced the contrary." 
— Correspondence in Proceedings of the N. Y. Provincial Congress, vol. ii. 

286 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

too, in men and material, were almost irreparable. Much 
the greater part of their artillery had been captured — two 
hundred and eighteen pieces of all calibres, according to 
the enemy's report. Three hundred and twenty-nine offi- 
cers and four thousand one hundred men had been taken 
prisoners; nearly six hundred had been killed or wound- 
ed ; and numbers had been swept off by disease. The 
enemy suffered more heavily, except in prisoners and can- 
non, in which their loss was nothing ; but they had recov- 
ered territory, won victories, and they were now to find 
before them only a flying and dissolving body of rebels. 

The situation at this point presented a gloomy prospeNct 
for America. But had the cause been then surrendered/ 
we could still contemplate this struggle around New 
York and Brooklyn with respect, as a noble effort to gain* 
an end worth fighting for. As success, however, was finally 
achieved, and achieved through the experience of these 
events, they challenge our deepest interest. 



To appreciate the full significance of what has been de- 
scribed in the preceding pages, follow the campaign in 
outline to its closing scenes. 

Thus far the American army had met with nothing but 
defeat, retreat, sacrifice, hardship, and discouragement. 
First came the months of preparation, with England 
straining every nerve to conquer the colonies ; then the 
first and disastrous collision on Long Island, on which 
so much depended ; then the retreat, the loss of New 
York, the withdrawal to White Plains, and a battle which 
was not a victory for the Americans ; and, finally, the 
heavy blow struck in the fall of Fort Washington. Much 
had been endured and learned alike by general and pri- 
vate soldier during these gloomy months, and both were 
now destined to profit by the trial. All this faith and 
patience had its legitimate reward, as we shall find if we 
now place ourselves in the last days of the year upon the 
banks of the Delaware. 

What had occurred in the mean time was the evacuation 
of Fort Lee, a hasty retreat through New Jersey, the 
dwindling away of the army, the advance of the British 
towards Philadelphia, the removal of Congress to Balti- 
more, and an increase of despondency throughout the 


28S CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

country.' Washington with the remnants of his army 
had taken post on the right bank of the Delaware, and, 
still strong in hope, was calling for militia to come to his 
assistance. At the same time he watched the opportu- 
nity to inflict upon the enemy some happy counter-stroke 
that might temporarily raise the spirits of his soldiers 
and the people. The opportunity came. The British 
delayed crossing the Delaware, and divided their force 
among different posts throughout New Jersey. At Tren- 
ton they stationed Colonel Rail with a body twelve hun- 
dred strong, composed chiefly of Hessians. This was the 
Rail who marched up with De Heister on Long Island, 
and figured in the capture of prisoners, who afterwards 
turned our right on Chatterton's Hill, at White Plains, 
and whose attack on Rawlings at Fort Washington was 
the brilliant feature of that day. He was every inch a. 
soldier, except in possessing that reserve of caution which 
every commander is bound to exercise in the presence of 

1 After the battle of White Plains, Howe, we have seen, moved against 
Fort Washington. On the other hand, Washington, supposing that Howe 
would aim next for Philadelphia, prepared to cross part of his force into 
Jersey and endeavor to protect that city. He proposed to continue the 
policy of " wasting" the campaign. Heath was left to look after the High- 
lands ; Lee with another force remained at Northcastle, and Connecticut 
troops were posted at Saw Pits and the borders of that State. Washington 
took with him Putnam, Greene, Stirling, and Mercer, with less than four, 
thousand men, and fell back before the British through Brunswick, Prince- 
ton, and Trenton. He wrote several times to Lee to join him, but Lee wag 
full of excuses and utterly failed Washington at this crisis. While march- 
ing in no haste by a westerly route through Jersey, Lee was surprised at 
his quarters at Baskingridge on the morning of December 13th, and made 
prisoner by Lieutenant-Colonel Harcourt and a party of dragoons. (The 
account of the capture by Captain Bradford. Lee's aid, not heretofore pub- 
lished, is given in Document 46. In Wilkinson's Memoirs there is another 
account.) Sullivan then took command of Lee's troops and joined Wash- 
ington, who at Trenton had crossed to the Pennsylvania side of the Dela- 
ware, removing all boats to delay the enemy, and had halted in camp a few 
miles above. 



an enemy, however remote the probability of an attack. 
Rail despised Washington's troops, and would throw up 
no intrenchments around Trenton. 

Washington resolved to make a sudden dash upon this 
Hessian. A surprise, an irresistible attack, the capture 
of a post with a thousand men, might work wonders in 
their moral effect. The soldiers with him were trusty 
men, twenty-four hundred of whom he proposed to lead 
himself on this enterprise. Many of. the regiments we 
have already become familiar with, and their leaders are 
men who have led them from the first. Here are Greene, 
Sullivan, Stirling, Mercer, Glover, and Sargent, for 
division and brigade commanders ; and with them we 
meet new officers — Brigadier-Generals Adam Stephen, 
of Virginia ; Arthur St. Clair, of Pennsylvania, and De 
Fermoy, a French officer, lately commissioned by Con- 
gress. Here also are Hand's battalion, parts of Small- 
wood's and Haslet's, Knox and his artillerymen, Dur- 
kee's, Charles Webb's, Ward's, and parts of Chester's 
and Bradley's, from Connecticut ; Sargent's, Glover's, 
Hutchinson's, Baldwin's, Shepherd's, Bailey's, and Pat- 
erson's, of Massachusetts ; Stark's, Poor's, and Reed's, 
from New Hampshire, who, with Paterson's, have just 
arrived in camp from Ticonderoga ; the remnants of 
McDdugall's and Ritzema's New York Continentals, and 
WeedOn's, Scott's, Elliot's, Buckner's, and Reed's Vir- 
ginians. How depleted are these battalions, many of 
them less than a hundred strong ! 

Washington's plan included a simultaneous move 
from several points. The body he was to lead was con- 
centrated, on the night of December 24th, at McCon- 
key's Ferry, nine miles above Trenton. The troops were 
to cross at night, reach the town at dawn, and take 


29O CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

its garrison by surprise. Lower down were two other 
bodies of troops. About opposite Trenton, General 
Ewing was posted with Pennsylvania militia and Nixon's 
Continental brigade, now commanded by Colonel Daniel' 
Hitchcock, of Rhode Island. At Bristol, General Cad- 
wallader commanded still another corps of Pennsylva- 
nians, including many young men from the best families 
in Philadelphia. Ewing and Cadwallader were to cross 
and intercept the retreat of the Hessians from Trenton, 
or prevent Donop at Burlington from affording relief. 
Putnam was to make a demonstration from Philadelphia. 
To his own force Washington issued minute and strin- 
gent orders. The troops he divided into two divisions, 
giving Sullivan the first, and "Greene the second. Sulli- 
van's brigades were Glover's, Sargent's, and St. Clair's ; 
Greene's were Stephen's, Mercer's, and Stirling's. De 
Fermoy was to follow in Greene's rear with Hand's 
riflemen and Hausegger's German battalion from Penn- 
sylvania. To each brigade were attached from .two to 
four pieces of artillery, eighteen guns in all, under. Knox. 
Greene's division was to cross first, Stephen's in advance, 
provided with spikes and hammers to spike the enemy's 
guns, and with ropes to drag them off if that proved fea- 
sible. After the crossing, Captain Washington, of the 
Third Virginia, was to proceed with a guard on the road 
towards Trenton, and halt and detain any one who might 
be passing in either direction. Three miles from the 
ferry the road branched, making two lines of approach to 
the town. G: dene's division was to take the upper road ; 
Sullivan's the lower one near the river. Stirling's and 
St. Clair's brigades were to act as reserves for their 
respective columns, and in case of necessity were to form 
separately or join forces, as the emergency required. The 



officers set their watches by Washington's. Profound 
silence was enjoined. Not a man to leave the ranks, read 
the orders, under penalty of death* 

The night of the 24th brought storm, snow, and sleet. 
Ewing and Cadwalladcr could do nothing on account of 
the ice in the river. But Washington was determined on 
the attempt. He called upon Glover's men to man the 
boats ; and these amphibious soldiers, who had transport- 
ed the army on the retreat from Long Island, were ready 
again to strain every nerve for the plans of their chief. 
It was a long, tedious night as they pushed across the 
Delaware, through ice and chilling spray, and it was not 
until four. o'clock in the morning that the force was ready 
to take up the march on the Jersey side. They could 
not surprise the Hessians before daylight, but a return 
was hot to be thought of. The troops then marched on 
in the worst weather that could be encountered. "As 
violent a storm ensued of Hail & Snow as I ever felt," 
wrote Captain William Hull, of Webb's Continentals. 
The river was crossed, says Knox, " with almost infinite 
difficulty," the floating ice making the labor incredible. 
Fortunately the storm was against our backs, ** and con- 
sequently in the faces of our enemy." 'The march was 
kept up swiftly and quietly. In Sullivan's column some 
of the soldiers could not cover their muskets from the 
wet, and word was sent to Washington of the unfitness 
of their arms. Washington promptly sent word back by 
his aid, Lieutenant-Colonel Samuel B. Webb, that if the 
men could not discharge their pieces they must use the 
bayonet, for the town must be taken. 

At eight o'clock the two columns nearcd the enemy's 

' Order of march to Trenton. — Drake's Life of Knox. 


«tfWE«Wff ^;n » , SWMm i '!'l H.W» mMn wwTMnwwttwi 


292 CAMPAIGN OF 1//6. 

outposts — Sullivan striking them on the lower road but 
three minutes after Greene on the upper one. Greene's 
van was led by Captain Washington and Lieutenant 
James Monroe, the future President ; Sullivan's by 
Stark's New Hampshire men. Surprising the Hessian 
outguards, our troops dashed after them " pell-mell" into 
Trenton, gave the enemy no time to form, cleared the 
streets with cannon and howitzers "in the twinkling of 
an eye," under Washington's own direction, dislodged 
them from the houses, drove them beyond into a plain, 
surrounded and forced them to surrender, with the loss 
of their commander Rail, who fell mortally wounded. 
A fine and remarkable exploit ! The turning-point of 
the campaign — if not, indeed, the decisive stroke of the 
war ! Gathering up their nine hundred and fifty pris- r 
oners, six brass field-pieces, standards, horses, and "a. 
vast quantity of Plunder," the Americans marched back 
again, having lost not a man killed, and hardly more than 
two or three wounded. 

In General Orders next day, Washington congratulated 
his soldiers in the warmest terms. He had been in many 
actions, in all of which he had seen misbehavior on the 
part of some ; but at Trenton, he told them their conduct 
was admirable, without exception. Among others he 
thanked Knox for his services in terms "strong and 
polite. " " Providence seemed to have smiled upon every, 
part of this enterprise." "What can't men do," said 
Hull, "when engaged in so noble a cause!" "That 
victory," writes Bancroft, " turned the shadow of death 
into the morning." 

One more encounter with the enemy, one more suc- 
cess, and the campaign closes with final victory assured 
far America. 



Convinced that inaction would be as demoralizing as 
defeat, Washington once more determined to try his 
fortunes in New Jersey, and at once prepared again " to 
beat up" the enemy's quarters. Crossing the Delaware 
as before, he marched on the 30th to Trenton, which the 
British had not reoccupicd since Christmas. Hearing 
of this move, Cornwallis at Princeton gathered a force 
of seven thousand veterans, and on the 2d of January 
started for Trenton. Washington sent out detachments, 
and delayed his entry into the town until evening. 
At nightfall he took up position on the east bank of the 
Assanpink Creek, which ran along the east edge of the 
town and emptied into the Delaware. The British pur- 
sued our troops to the bridge, but. were there repulsed 
by Knox's artillery. Cornwallis rested at Trenton, sent 
off for reinforcements, and expected the next morning to 
cross the Assanpink at the bridge or the fords above, 
and bring Washington to an engagement. Obviously the 
Americans were in a hazardous position. Should the 
British drive them back, there was no escape, for the 
Delaware flowed in their rear. Tliey must save them- 
selves that night. A council of war was called, and the 
situation discussed. From Trenton to Princeton ran a 
second roundabout road east of the main highway, along 
which Cornwallis had marched, and which it was possi- 
ble for the Americans to take, and put themselves in the 
rear of Cornwallis, with lines of retreat open beyond to 
Morristown and the back country. Washington proposed 
escape by this route, and the council seconded him. 
Orders for a secret night march were given to the offi- 
cers, and the regiments were silently withdrawn from 
their posts along the Assanpink, and set in motion along 
this back road towards Princeton. The camp-fires on 

■ 1 

- — mnBanaaa 


294 CAMPAIGN OF 1776. 

the banks of the creek were kept up by guards left be- 
hind for the purpose. Nothing occurred to excite sus- 
picion of the movement in the minds of the British senti- 
nels, nearly within musket-shot on the opposite bank. 

Washington's troops reached a point within two miles 
of Princeton about sunrise. The main column pushed 
on for the village, while Mercer's brigade, consisting of 
the remnants of Haslet's Delawares, Smallwood's Mary- 
landers, and the First Virginia regiment under Captain 
Fleming, turned to the left to break down a bridge on the 
main road over Stony Creek, which the enemy would 
have to cross on returning from Trenton, in pursuit of 

Three British regiments had been left at Princeton by 
Cornwallis, but were now, on the morning of 1 the 3d, prOr 
ceeding under orders to join him. These were the Fifty- 
fifth, the Fortieth, and Seventeenth, the latter com- 
manded by Lieutenant-Colonel Mawhood. Mawhood, 
was a mile in advance of the others, and had just crossed 
the Stony Creek bridge, when, looking across the coun- 
try to his left and rear, he discovered Mercer's party on 
its march. Surprised at the appearance of a force of 
rebels where he least expected to see one, Mawhood, . 
nevertheless, with a soldier's instinct, promptly wheeled 
about and proceeded to attack Mercer. They met on a 
hill and exchanged fire, when Mawhood ordered a bay- 
onet charge, and put the Americans to rout. Mercer, 
on horseback, attempted in vain to rally his men, and was 
mortally wounded with bayonet thrusts. Haslet, gal- 
\ lantly fighting on foot, and also trying to form the broken 

brigade, fell dead with a bullet wound in his forehead. 
Captain Fleming, of Virginia, suffered a like fate, as well 
as Captain Neal of the artillery. This sudden and se- 



rious reverse required instant attention, for Washington 
could not afford to be detained long in this position. 
Cadwallader's brigade, which had followed Mercer's, 
was accordingly brought up into line, while Washing- 
ton attempted to rally the latter's force ; but Maw- 
hood was making a surprising fight, and he threw Cad- 
wallader's militiamen into confusion as he had Mercer's. 
Matters now were worse, and the commander-in-chief 
made strenuous exertions, at great personal hazard, to 
bring the troops into some order. Meanwhile, he sent 
word for Hitchcock's brigade to advance upon the enemy, 
while Hand's riflemen endeavored to turn their left. The 
"gallant Hitchcock" promptly took his command into 
action-— all that remained of it, five regiments together 
hardly five hundred strong— and formed in line. On the 
right was Lieutenant-Colonel Nixon, next Varnum's bat- 
talion, under Lieutenant-Colonel Crary, in the centre 
Colonel Lippett, with the largest number, one hundred 
and twenty-eight men, next Hitchcock's, under Major 
Angell, and on the left Little's battalion, under Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel Henshaw.' They opened fire at one hundred 
yards, and then, in conjunction with Cadwallader's men, 
whom Washington had rallied in part, they rushed upon 
Mawhood's force, recaptured the two guns we had lost, 
and joined in putting the enemy completely to rout. 

No doubt these old troops experienced a glow of satis- 
faction over this brief and final work of the campaign, for 
they had endured hard service from the outset. Here 
was Greene's old brigade, which crossed with him to 
Long Island on the 1st of May — Varnum's, Hitchcock's, 
Little's, and, by a happy accident, Hand's, on the left — to 

' Stiles' MS. Diary. Statement of Rhode Island officers engaged at 

296 CAMPAIGN OF 1776. 

assist in reversing the record of the year. These men 
had built the lines around Brooklyn ; Hitchcock's and 
Little's at the Flatbush Pass had been caught and all but 
captured in the surprise of August 27th ; they fought 
manfully, and suffered the most at Harlem Heights ; 
many of them responded to Washington's appeal to re- 
main six weeks beyond their term of service, and now 
they had shared in the successful manoeuvre at Prince- 
ton, which changed the whole aspect of affairs. 

Hitchcock, who had temporarily succeeded Nixon in 
command of the brigade, received the thanks of Wash- 
ington for himself and for his men in front of Princeton 
College for their aid and conduct in the action. But the 
colonel, a brilliant, promising officer, whose regiment buill!v 
and guarded Fort Putnam in Brooklyn, was destined to 
only a brief career henceforth. Overcome by the fatigue 
and hardships of the campaign, he died in camp at Mor- 
ristown, on the 13th of January, and was buried by the 
Philadelphia and Delaware Light Infantry companies, 
under Rodney, with all the honors of war. It was a fit- Igi 
ting escort to the remains of the brave soldier, for Rodney "" 
and most of his men had behaved well at Princeton. 

Sullivan's troops drove the other two British regiments 
out of Princeton towards Brunswick, and Washington's 
tired army then pushed on, and on the 6th went into 
camp at Morristown. 1 

The effect of these two unexpected strokes at Trenton 
and Princeton was to baffle Howe, and utterly disconcert 
his plans. Expecting to march upon Philadelphia at his 

1 In connection with the battles of Trenton and Princeton, read the inter- 
esting letters from Knox, Haslet, Rodney, and Hull in Part II. They have 
all appeared since our general accounts were written. 


leisure, he suddenly finds Washington turning about and 
literally cutting his way through the British posts, back 
to a point where he threatened Howe's flank and rear. 
The enemy were at once compelled to retire from all their 
positions below Brunswick, give up the thought of win- 
tering in Philadelphia, and fall back to the vicinity of New 
York. When Horace Walpole heard of these move- 
ments, he wrote to Sir Horace Mann: " Washington has 
shown himself both a Fabius and a Camillus. His inarch 
through our lines is allowed to have been a prodigy of 
generalship. In one word, I look upon a great part of 
America as lost to this country." * 

Here the campaign closed. Washington could not be 
dislodged from his strong mountain position, and Howe 
was satisfied to rest his troops and postpone further oper 
ations until the next season. Meantime the country took 
heart, Congress voted troops and supplies, and the army 
was recruited and organized on a better basis. " The 
business of war is the result of Experience," wrote Wol- 
cott from Congress, with faith unshaken during the dakr- 
est hours of the campaign ; and experience was now put 
to good profit. 

1 In another letter Walpole says : 

" It is now the fashion to cry up the manoeuvre of General Washington 
in this action [Princeton] who has beaten two English regiments, too, and 
obliged General Howe to contract his quarters — in short, the campaign has 
by no means been wound up to content. ... It has lost a great deal 
of its florid complexion, and General Washington is allowed by both sides 
not to be the worst General in the field." 

Again, in a humorous vein : 

" Caius Manlius Wasliingtonius Amcricanus, the dictator, has got together 
a large army, larger than our ally, the Duke of Wirtcmhcrg was to have 
sold us; and General Howe, who has nothing but salt provisions in our 
metropolis, New York, lias not twenty thousand pounds' worth of pickles, 
as he had at Boston." — Walpole 's Letters and Correspondence, Cunningham. 


298 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

The crisis was passed. Events proved decisive. Hard- 
ship and anxiety were yet to come during succeeding 
years of the war; but it was the result of this year's 
struggle that cleared away misgivings and confirmed the 
popular faith in final success. England could do no more 
than she had done to conquer America ; while America 
was now more ready than ever to meet the issue. In- 
dependence was established in the present campaign — in 
the year of its declaration ; and more than to any others 
we owe this political privilege to the men who fought 
from Long Island to Princeton. 


Obstructions in the Hudson.— Tlic following letter from Mr. Duerto 
the Secret Committee of the Now York Provincial Congress refers to the 
defence of the Hudson at Fort Washington : 

"White Plains, Sunday 21st Jul)', 1776. 

" Dear Gentl: — I have just arrived at this place from New York where 
I have conversed with Gcnl. Washington on the Purport of the Letter from 
the Secret Committee. 

"Gens. Putnam and Mifflcn have made an exact Survey of the River 
opposite Mount Washington and find that the Depth in no Part exceeds 
seven Fathoms ; the Width, however, of the Channel (which is from three 
to seven Fathoms) is not much less than 1800 Yards, the shallow Part of 
the River running in an oblique Direction. Genl. Washington expresses 
himself extremely anxious about the Obstruction of that Channel, and 
Measures are daily used for executing that Purpose. It is impossible to 
procure Vessels enough at New York, so that the Measure must be delayed 
till such Time as more Vessels can be brought through the Sound from 
Connecticut ; however, I am not without Apprehensions that this Resource 
will be cut off, as I understand that some of the Enemy's Vessels have 
sailed out of the Hook with an Intention (probably) of cutting ofT our Com- 
munication with the Sound. 



NOTES. 299 

" It is, however an Object of so much Importance that no Difficulties, 
however great, ought to deter us from our Attempts to carry it into Execu- 
tion ; if we succeed, the Designs of the Enemy in this Campaign are effectually 
baffled— \{ we fail, we cannot be in a more lamentable Situation than we are 

"Exclusive of the great Advantage we should reap in obstructing the 
Channel so far to the Southward, it is, I fear, the only Place wc can depend 
upon shallowing to the Southward of the Highlands, whilst the Men-of-War 
arc in the River, for if proper Batteries are erected near the Water at Mount 
Washington, and on the opposite Side, mounted with Guns of 18, 24 and 
32 Pounders, it will not be practicable for any Vessels to bo so near as to 
prevent our working under the Cover of these Works. I have strongly 
urged Genl. Washington to send Gen. Mifflcn some heavier Metal, and he 
seems half inclined. This necessary operation has not yet taken place. 

" The Genl. is anxious to have either of you (as Members of the Secret 
Committee) to be with him in Town, and has authorized me to make the 
Offer to you of his House during your Residence. Let me entreat One of 
you immediately to come Down, and not to quit Genl. Washington till such 

Time as this Measure on which our Safety depends is effected ' 

" I am very sincerely, yours, etc., 


" P. S. — For God's sake exert yourself to secure the Sea Vessels which 
arc in the River."' 

To hasten the completion of the obstructions General Putnam proposed 
the following plan of sinking ships, as appears ki a letter from him to 
General Gates, dated July 26, 1776 (in Sparks') : 

" We are preparing Chevaux-de-Frize, at which we make great Despatch 
by the Help of Ships, which are to be Sunk ; a Scheme of mine, which you 
may be assured is very simple, a Plan of which I send you. The two Ships' 
Sterns lie towards each other, about Seventy Feet apart. Three large Logs, 
which reach from Ship to Ship, are fastened to them. The two Ships and 
Logs stop the River two hundred and eighty Feet. The Ships are to be 
sunk, and, when hauled down on one side, the Picks will be raised to a 
proper Height, and they must inevitably stop the River, if tho Enemy will 
let us sink them." 

On the 21st of September, the New York Convention resolved : 

"That the Secret Committee for obstructing the Navigation of Hudson's 
River be empowered and directed to purchase or impress for the Service of 
the State any Number of Vessels not exceeding six, which they shall think 
best calculated for the Purpose of completing the Obstructions in the Hud- 
son's River opposite to Mount Washington 

"That the said Committee be directed (o send all the Oak Plank which 
they may have in their Possession, to Mount Washington with the utmost 

1 From the Clinton papers as published in E. M. Kuttenber's Obstructions to the Navigation 
of Hudson's River, etc. Munsell, Albany. 



- mm ii > »i m>— — i— ■— — mmmm mm — ■ 

300 CAMPAIGN OF 1 776. 

Governor's Island. — The obstructions in the East River between 
Governor's Island and the Battery consisted of hulks sunk in the Channel. 
This was not done until a few days before the battle on Long Island. 
Colonel Douglas, as he states, sounded the river. The present Buttermilk 
'Channel, between the island and Brooklyn, was not obstructed. Governor's 
Island was evacuated on the morning of the retreat from Long Island, but 
the enemy failed to take possession for two days. The interval .was Im- 
proved by the Americans in carrying off all except the heavy pieces to New 
York in the night-time. 

Battle of Long Island. — The prisoners named in Document 58 as 
having been captured by us at the battle of Long Island were a small 
party of marines, who mistook the Delaware regiment in Stirling's force 
for Hessians. They came too near and were taken by Lieut. Wm. Popham, 
who was ordered to march them into camp. He made them cross Gow. 
anus Creek on Stirling's retreat, and brought all but one in safe. Popham 
afterwards became major and aid to General James Clinton, and settled In 
New York, where he lived to be over ninety years old. Was a member of 
the New York Cincinnati. During the battle the marines landed from the 
fleet, which could not make its way up above Gowanus Bay, and, according 
to one letter, Admiral Howe furnished Grant with ammunition while fight- 
ing Stirling. The Roebuck alone, as already stated, could work its way 
along far enough to send some harmless long-range shot at the Red Hook 







:-■ " " '"""' 


• \ 


[No. i.] 



[Colonel Little's Order Book] 

Head Quarters, April 30, 1776. 
(Parole, Sawbridge.) (Countersign, Oliver.) 

.... Gen 1 Greene's Brigade is to encamp tomorrow at 10 a.m.. 
on the ground marked out on Long Island. . . . 

gen. greene's orders. 

[New York] April 30, 1776. 

The Q r . M rB . of the 9 th , ii lh , 12 th regts. are to apply to the Q. 

M. Gen 1 , for tents & camp utensils this evening to be in readiness 

to encamp agreeably to general orders to morrow morning — at 4 

o'clock this p.m. Col. Varnum & Col. Hitchcock & Col. Little 

1 Those orders arc from the Order Book kept by Colonel Moses Little, of 
Greene's brigade, while encamped on Long Island during the months of 
May, June, July, and August, 1776, the original being in the possession of 
Benjamin Hale, Esq., of Ncwburyport, Mass. They cover the whole period 
of active operations there after the arrival of the main army at New York. 
The book also contains Washington's general orders from head-quarters, 
New York, General Sullivan's orders while in command on Long Island, 
Colonel Little's regimental orders, and scattering orders from Generals Lcc, 
Spencer, Greene, and Nixon, in September and October, 1776. As all 
Washington's orders arc to be found in Force's Archives, a few only arc 
inserted here to preserve the connection. They arc distinguished as. 
"General Orders." Sullivan's and the others arc given separately. 



arc desired to attend at the General's quarters to go over to Long 
Island & view the encampment marked out. A scrg'. & 20 men 
arc to parade at White Hall to morrow at 7 o'clock, to be under 
■the direction of Engineer Smith. 

[Long Island] May 4th, 1776. 
Captain Spurs is to draw out a party of carpenters to make 
Bell tents, they are to apply to Col. Miflin for tools, boards & nails 
to make them of. 300 men for fatigue to morrow. The Quarter 
Master is to make an estimate of the necessary quantity of boards 
to floor the tents & apply to the Quarter Master general for them. 
The Cols, or commanding officers of each regiment is to give an 
order for the boards, certifying the quantity wanted. A return is 
to be made of the state of the cartridges now in possession of the 
troops & the number wanted to make up each man's twenty 

[Col. Little's] 

Officers for fatigue to-morrow, Cap. Gerrish, Lt. Kent, & Lt. 


May 5th. 1776. 

A fatigue party of 200 men to morrow morning properly officered. 
No non-commissioned Officer or Soldier is to pass the ferries to 
New York without permission from some of y e Field Officers. 
Any of the troops attempting to pass over without permission will 
be confined & tried for disobedience of orders. Any of the fatigue 
parties that leave their work without liberty, shall do constant fa- 
tigue duty for a whole week. As the security of New York greatly 
xlependeth on this pass, when these works are constructing the 
General hopes the troops will carefully forward the same as fast 
as possible. 

The inhabitants having entered a complaint that their meadow 
ground was injured by the troops going upon it to gather greens, 
they are for the future strictly prohibited going on the ground of 
any inhabitants, unless in the proper passes to & from the encamp- 
ments & the forts, without orders from some commissioned officer. 
The General desires the troops not to sully their reputation by 


any undue liberty in speech or conduct but behave themselves 
towards the inhabitants with that decency & respect that becomes 
the character of troops fighting for the preservation of the rights 
& liberties of America. 

The General would have the troops consider that wc came here 
to protect the inhabitants & their property from the ravages of 
the enemy, but if instead of support & protection, they meet with 
nothing but insult & outrage, we shall be considered as banditti & 
treated as oppressors & enemies. 



Head Quarters May 7, 1776. 
(Parole, Devonshire.) (Countersign, Cavendish.) 

Every regiment encamped in the lines & every reg\ in the brig- 
ade on Long Island, exclusive of their quarter & rear guards, are 
to mount a picket every evening at retreat beating at sun set, con- 
sisting of one Cap'. 2 Subs, 1 drum & 1 fife & 50 rank & file — 
they are to lay upon their arms, & be ready to turn out at a mo- 
ments notice. 

One Col. one LA Col. & one major are to mount every evening 
at sunset as Field Officers of the picket. 

Immediately upon any alarm or order from the Brig. Gen 1 , of 
the day, the pickets are to form in the front of their respective 
encampments, & there wait the orders of the Field Officer com- 
manding the pickets, who is instantly to obey the orders of the 
Brig r . Gen 1 , of the Day. 

A Brig. Gen 1 , is to mount every morning at ten o'clock who 
will receive all reports, visit all the outguards in the day time & 
report all extraordinary occurrences to the Commander in Chief & 
the Brig d0 Major of the day is constantly to attend head quartcis 
to receive all orders, & distribute them immediately. 

The Col. is to go the grand rounds, & the Lt. Col. & the majcr 
the visiting rounds of the Camp. 

Brig. Gen 1 . Greene will order the same picket to be mounted 
by the regiments in his brigade as are mounted in the grand 
Camp. He will also direct one field officer to mount daily to 
command them. Gen. Greene will report all cxtraordinaries to 
the Commander in Chief. 

Col. Prescott or the officer commanding on Nutten's or Gov- 


crnor's Island & the officer commanding at Red Hook, arc to 
report all extraordinaries to the Commander in Chief on any ap- 
pearance of the enemy. The commanding officer at Red Hook 
will also dispatch a messenger to Gen'. Greene. 

The officer commanding the riflemen upon Long Island will 
constantly report all extraordinaries to Gen 1 . Greene, & the officer 
commanding upon Staten Island will do the same to the Com- 
mander in Chief. 

gen. creene's orders. 

May 8, 1776. 
Field officers for the picket, Major Angell, Adj'. for the day 
from Col. Hitchcock's regiment. 


Officers for picket tonight, Cap. Parker, L l . Jenkins, IA Burn- 
ham, Ensign Story. Officers for fatigue to-morrow, Cap. Dodge, 
L*. Jared Smith & Ensign Proctor. 

gen. creene's orders. 

n Long Island, May io" 1 1776. 

The Brig de Major is to regulate the duty of the regiments, both 
officers & soldiers, by their number & not by regiments, some 
being much larger than others, & to establish a regular roster for 
the regulation of the same. A subaltern & n men are to guar 
the stores & ferries. 

• The officer commanding the guard is to receive his orders froi 
Deputy Commissary Brown for the number of sentries necessar 
for securing the stores, to be relieved daily. 

The Cols, or commanding officers of the ninth, eleventh, twelfth 
Reg 1 " are to draw as many cartridges from the laboratory as will 
furnish each man 20 rounds ; as many to be delivered out as the 
cartridge boxes will contain, the remainder to be tied up by the 
cap 1 of companies, & every man's name written on his cartridges, 
that they may be delivered without confusion : All the bad cart- 
ridges now in the regiments are to be returned to the Laboratory. 
The Brig do Major will send a party to the Q r M r Gen 1 to draw 
tents for the establishment of the main guard, to consist of a sub- 
altern and 21 men. An orderly sergeant from each regiment will 



attend at the general's quarters daily ; they are to bring their pro- 
visions with them. 

The commanding officers of the 9 th 11 th & 12 th Reg" are to 
make returns of the guns out of repair & the number wanted to 
furnish every non commissioned officer & soldier with a gun. 

May 10 th 1776. 
A subaltern & 30 men are to parade immediately to fetch over 
300 spears from the Q r M r Gen 1 '* store. The officer must pick 
those that are fit for use. He is also to bring over a grindstone to 
sharpen the spears on. Col. Hitchcock will send over the arms of 
his regiment that are out of order, to Mr. John Hillyard, foreman 
of a shop at the King's Works (so called) where they will be im- 
mediately repaired. Any soldier that has his gun damaged by 
negligence or carelessly injured, shall pay the cost of repairing, 
the cap* & sub* are desired to report all such. 

May n th 1776. 
Field officer for picket tomorrow night Lt. Col. Henshaw, Adj 1 
from Col. Hitchcock's reg*. 


C. S. S. C. ft. F. P. 

Picket 1 .. 2 .. 2 .. 2 .. 1 .. 1 .. 50. 

Fatigue 1 .. 2 .. 2 .. 2 .. 1 .. 1 .. 80 

Main Guard... 1 .. 8 


Those non commissioned officers & soldiers who have occasion 
to go over the ferry to New York will apply to Lt. Col. Henshaw 
for their permits. 

A regimental Court Martial will sit today at 12 o'clock at Capt. 
Wade's tent to try such prisoners as are contained in the Quarter 
Guard of the regiment. Cap. Wade, Pres. Lt. Hodgkins, Lt. 
Parsons, Lt. Knot & Ens" Pearson, members. 

gf.n. Greene's orders. 

May I2" 1 , 1776. 
The i2 tb regiment exempt from fatigue tomorrow having to be 



' -" 3 


May 14, 1776. 
Field officer for picket tomorrow night, Major Collins, adj 1 . for 
the day from Col. Hitchcock's Reg*. 

In Camp Long Island May 15, 1776. 
The Col. desires hereby to remind the officers & soldiers of this 
regiment of the Rules & Regulations of the army, & of the gene- 
ral orders issued by the Commander in Chief agreable to them, 
especially that the Rules & Regulations be often read to the men 
that no one plead ignorance if he is called to account for the 
breach of any of them. 

The Col. desires & orders that the officers pay particular atten- 
tion that the Rules & Regulations be read to the men agreable to 
the resolves of Congress, likewise that the officers of each com- 
pany, off duty, attend morning & evening to the calling of the roll 
& if possible that a report be made every day of such as be 
absent. The Col. is sorry to see so much inattention, of the offi- 
cers & men to the duties of religious worship, & he desires as we 
are all engaged in the cause of God & our country, & are depend- 
ent on the Divine assistance for projection & success, & as it is a 
duty incumbent on all as far as possible in a social way to wait 
upon God in the way of his appointment, to implore pardon & 
forgiveness of all our sins, & to ask his guidance & direction in 
the prosecution of our affairs, that neither officers nor soldjers 
will unnecessarily absent themselves from the stated worshiapof 
God at the house of Prayer — or on the Sabbath day. / 

Commissioned officers for picket tonight Cap. Baker, Lb ^Cnot 
& Ensign Woodman. Commissioned officers for fatigue tomor- 
row, Cap'. Parker, IA Silvanus Smith & IA Lamborn ; for main 
guard Ensign Mitchell. 


Brooklin May 16, 1776. 

Col. Varnum's regiment to be off duty tomorrow morning in 

the forenoon, to parade on the regimental parade at 8 oclock, to 

be reviewed, & their arms examined. Every man in the regiment, 

that is well, is to be on parade with arms & accoutrements. No 


soldier is to borrow cither arms or accoutrements from a soldier 
of either of the other regiments, as the true state of the regiment 
with respect to arms is wanted. Col. Hitchcock's reg'. will be 
reviewed next day after tomorrow. Col. Little's the day after 
that will be reviewed in the same manner. 

No soldier is to mount the picket guard without shoes. 

May 16, 1776. 
Tomorrow being the day appointed by the Continental Con- 
gress to be observed as a day of fasting & prayer & his Excel- 
lency Gen 1 . Washington having ordered all duties to be discon- 
tinued except the necessary guard until next day after tomorrow, 
there are no fatigue parties to turn out tomorrow morning & 
the reviewing of Col. Varnum's regiment is put off until next day 
after tomorrow, the other regiments are to follow in order as 
in the morning orders. The general desires that the troops of the 
9, 11 & 12 regiments (except those on duty) may be strict to at- 
tend the duties of the day in a devout & cleanly manner. Field 
officers for picket tomorrow night Adj 1 . from Col. Var- 
num's regiment. Detail for Guard & fatigue as usual. 


James Holland, a fifer in Cap. Dodge's Company is appointed 
fife major to this regiment, & is to be obeyed as such. 
Com d officers for picket tonight IA Atkinson & LA Fiske. 


Head Quarters, 17 May 1776. 
(Parole, New Castle.) (Countersign, Wilmington.) 

Cap. Wolverton's Company of New Jersey is to join General 
Greene's Brigade. The Cap. is to take his orders from the Gene- 
ral respecting his post 

gen. greene's morning orders. 

May 17, 1776. 
A corporal & 6 men to be sent for a guard to fort Sterling 
to mount r.t 9 O'clock. This guard is to be sent every other 


day. The corporal to receive his orders from IA Randall of the 

Field officer for picket tomorrow night IA Col. Henshaw, Adj'. 
from Col. Varnum's regiment. Fatigue as usual. 

May 19, 1776. 
Field officer for picket tomorrow night Major Collins, Adj'. 
from Col. Varnum's regiment. Detail as yesterday. 

May 20, 1776. 
Field officer for picket, Major Angell, Adj*. from Col. Hitch- 
cock's regiment. 

May 21, 1776. 
Field officer for picket tomorrow night, L l . Col. Crary, Adj 1 . 
fr-em Col. Little's regiment. 

May 23, 1776. 
Field officer for picket to morrow night, L'. Col. Henshaw, ad- 
jutant from Col. Hitchcock's regiment. 


Head Quarters, May 25, 1776. 
(Parole, MugfOrd.) (Countersign, Leonard.) 

A working party consisting of nine hundred men to be ordered 
tomorrow morning from the different brigades, & the regiments. 

_ , , , ( Colo 8 . Leonard 's»SrBailey's ) 

Gen'. Heath s -j QoW Read . s & Baldwin>s \ To go to Powles Hook. 

{Colo 9 . Parson's & Wylly's— To go to Bayard's 
Hill. Colo 8 . Huntington's to Red Hook. Arnold's 
to Fort Sterling. Col. Ward's— 50 men with 4 
days provisions to cut pickets .... The remainder of this regi- 
ment's working party — at Fort George. 

. . _". ,. ( Nixon's & Webb's Mc- ) 0n Governor's Island 

Lord Stirling* Dougall . g & R|tzema . s every day till fur- 

I ; ther orders. 


gen. greene's orders. 

May 25, 177C. 

Cap. Silas Talbut of Col. Hitchcock's regiment, Cap". Frazler 
of Cap". (Col.) Wayne's regiment, V. Noel Allen of Col. Var- 
num's regiment & [I,\] Samuel Huse of Col. Little's regiment are 
a Committee to inspect the provisions for the troops of this brig- 
ade. The commissaries & quartermasters are to apply to them 
to determine, which is merchantable and which is not. Such as 
they say are good the quarter masters arc to receive and such as 
they condemn are to be refused. 

No non commissioned officer or soldier is to be out of camp 
after retreat beating, & any that are discovered going out after 
that time are to be taken up & confined in the main guard, & any 
that are coming in, that have been out without leave from their | 
officers are to be confined ; any sentry that permits them to pass 
without examination will be punished for disobedience of orders. 

L l . Col. Cornell having reported great negligence among the 
guards, for the future they will be visited by day & night, by the 
field officer of the day. Every commissioned & non-commis- 
sioned officer that commands guards is to be reported, that has 
not his guard in good order. No soldier is to be absent from the 
guard without leave, & not more than 2 commissioned officers nor 
more than one non commissioned officer at a time. All guards 
except the picket are to mount at o'Clock in the morning.. 

The retreat is to beat half an hour after sunset. At guard mount- 
ing in the morning, "the field officer of the day is to attend the 
parade & give to each respective officer a proper detail of his guard. 

One man from each detached guard is to be sent to the grand 
parade to pilot the new guard to the relief of the old ones. 

No person is to be admitted to any of the forts where there are 
cannon or ammunition except a General officer by day, without 
the leave of the officer commanding the guard, & a general offi- 
cer after dark is not to be admitted without leave first obtained of 
the commanding (officer). 

The officer commanding guards where there are cannon or am- 
munition, is to be very watchful & not to suffer by day or night 
any person to enter the forts unless they have business there, or 
are known to belong to the army, or are with some officer belong- r^,/ 

ing to the army. 

Adj 1 . from Col. Varnum's. 



Head Quarters, May 26, 1776. 
(Parole, Hancock.) (Countersign, Trumbull.) 

.... The working party of Col. Nixon's regiment are to 
be ordered every day to Long Island, instead of Governor's Island 
as mentioned in yesterday's orders 


May 26, 1776. 

Field officer for picket tomorrow night, Major Collins, Adj'. 
from Col. Hitchcock's regiment. 


May 29, 1776. 

A garrison court martial to sit for the trial of prisoners now in 
the main Guard. 
C The commanding officer of the Ferry Guard is to permit the 
/ Ferry boats to pass until ten O'clock with common passengers, but 
no soldier is to pass after retreat beating, unless the Col. or com- 
manding officer of the regiment, to which he belongs, certify the 
necessity. The troops are to be under arms at roll calling, morn- 
ing & evening. Every soldier detected snapping his lock with- 
out orders from his officer, is to be immediately sent prisoner to 
the main guard, there to be confined two days & nights, & allowed 
nothing to eat or drink but bread & water. 
— ^ All officers are desired to be more careful of discovering the 
countersign to persons that have no right to know it. 

Any soldier on guard that discovers the countersign to any of 
his fellow soldiers, that are not on guard, is to be immediately 
confined. Every one that gives the countersign, is to give it 
as softly as possible so that if any person is listening, he may not 
hear it. 

The sentries are not to suffer any person to stand near them, 
while they are on their posts after retreat beating. 

The General wishes that every part of camp duty may be done 
with as much exactness, as if the enemy was encamped in the 
neighborhood, for bad habits once contracted are difficult to get 
over, & doing duty in a slovenly manner, is both disgraceful & 
dangerous to officers & men. 


Field officer for picket tomorrow night, Major Smith, Adj'. 
from Col. Hitchcock's regiment. 

C. S. S. C. D. F. P. 

Fatigue.... i .. 2 .. 1 .. 3 .. 1 .. 1 .. 80 , 

(itiard 1 .. 1 .. o .. o .. 20 

Picket 1 .. 2 .. 2 .. 2 .. 1 .. 1 .. 49 


Afier Orders, May 31, 1776. 
Gen. Washington has written to Gen 1 . Putnam 1 desiring him, in 
the most pressing form, to- give positive orders to all the Col", to 
have colors immediately completed for their respective regiments. 


June I", 177O. 

A sergeant & 20 men to parade immediately to clear out 
Mr. Livingston's Dock filled up by the Picket pea lings. No peal- 
ings to be thrown into the dock for the future. 

Six o'clock this evening the troops to be all under arms to man 
the works. 

Five Co 9 , of Col. Varnum's Regiment upon the right in fort 
Box. The other three upon the right of fort Green. 

Col. Hitchcock's reg'. to man fort Putnam & the redoubt upon 
the left of it. 5 Co*, in the first & 3 in the Last. 

Five Co*, of Col. Little's regiment in Fort Green & 3 in the ob- 
long square. 

The independent Co. to be reserved in the rear of fort Green. 

Juno 3 a , 1776. 
150 men & officers wanted from Cols Varnum's Hitchcock's 
<t Little's reg u with arms blankets & 2 days provisions cooked 
«t Vi a pint of rum a man. To be ready to march at 3 o'clock to 
morrow morning every man to take his blanket & none to go but 
such as are decently dressed. 

1 General Washington was absent at Philadelphia from May 21st to June 
6th, leaving General Putnam in command at New York. 


Camp Long Island, June 7, 1776. 

Col', of 9, II, & 12 regiments to have all the arms in their regi- 
ments that need repairing sent to the armorers. 

The pikes to be placed in the works in the following order — 
100 in fort Green, 30 in the works on the right of it, 20 in the ob- 
long redoubt, 50 in fort Putnam & 20 in the works on the left of it. 
Every reg'. to clean the spears once a week at their alarm Post. 

The officers at the Ferry guard to stop all arms coming over the 
Ferry to the island, & report immediately to the Gen 1 , who has 
them & where they say they are going. 2 sentries to be posted 
at the church to stop all arms going eastward from the city, the 
names and place of abode of any person stopped with arms to be 
taken & reported immediately. 

June 9 lh 1776. 

Field officer for picket, IA Col. Henshaw. 

The 9, 11, 12 Reg" to parade tomorrow morning at 6 o'clock 
on the right of the encampment, every officer & soldier not on duty 
or unwell to join their respective regiments. 

The Fatigue party not to turn out till after y° regiments are 

The officers of the 9 th , i i th , 12 th are desired to exercise together 
by reg u 4 days, & the whole of the officers of the three regiments 
to exercise together once a week to be exercised by the Col. of 
the Reg', in turn or by some person appointed by the Col. whose 
turn it is. The Col*, of the 9, 11, 12, Reg tB are desired to make 
returns of the state of the arms &c, agreably to yesterdays order 


Head Quarters June 10, 1776. 
(Parole, Bedford.) (Countersign, Cumberland.) 

The Brig. Gens, are requested to make their different Brigades 
perfectly acquainted with their several alarm posts & to pay par- 
ticular attention to the men's arms. . . . 


June 12, 1776. 
A garrison court martial to sit to-day. . . . 
The Col. or Comm B : officers of the 9, n, 12 Reg ts to certify to 


the Deputy Commissary from day to day the necessary supplies 
for the sick. The Surgeons to report every day the state and 
wants of the sick. Centries posted at Hospitals & armory not to 
demand the countersign of passengers unless they attempt to enter 
those places. 

Juno 13, 1776. 
The Camp Cullimen (?) of the 9. 11. 12 rcg'\ to keep the 
streets clean, remove the filth, cover the vaults every day & dig 
new ones once a week ; they must attend the Hospitals, & give 
directions for having them kept in good clean order. Cols, are 
requested to appoint nurses. No soldier to purchase clothing of 
another without leave, many soldiers stealing and selling clothing. 

June 14, 1776. 
The s Co*, of Col. Waynes reg 1 . on Long Island are to be mus- 
tered to-morrow afternoon. A subaltern sergeant & 20 men to- 
be detached from the picket guard every evening to mount guard 
at Red Hook Barbette battery to rejoin the picket in the morn- 

In Camp Long Island, Juno 17, 1776. 

The rank of the Captains in Col. Little's regf. being unsettled, 
a Court to day is to establish their rank. The members to be- 
from Col. Varnum's & Hitchcock's Reg u . 

Col. Varnum's Reg 1 , is to take fort Box & the Oblong redoubt 
for their alarm posts, fort Box 6 cos., oblong redoubt 2 cos. Cap.. 
Woolverton's Independent Co. to join those in the redoubt, & 
to receive orders from Col. Varnum. 

Col. Hitchcock's Reg 1 , to take fort Putnam & the fort or redoubt 
on the left of it for their alarm posts. 

Col. Little's Reg', to take fort Greene for their alarm post. 

In case of an attack all these posts are to be defended to the 
last extremity. 

The lines to be manned every morning between day & sunrise 
& the troops to be exercised at parapet firing. 

Camp Lono Island June i8, 1776. 
The picket to be discontinued till further orders, except guard, 
kit Red Hook. 


300 men with their officers to parade at 8 O'clock tomorrow 
.morning to receive orders from Engineer Smith. 


Head Quarters June 19, 1776. 
{Parole, London.) (Countersign, Montgomery.) 

A working party of 900 men properly officered to parade 
tomorrow morning near the artillery park. . . . Brig. Gen. 
•Greene & Col. Prescott will furnish 150 men each as a working 
party on Governor's Island. On the present emergency all work- 
ing parties to work till 6 o'clock p.m. Those who go by water 
will leave work sooner if wind & tide make it necessary. 


June 20, 1776. 

Field officer, L*. Col. Cornell, Adf. from Col. Little's Reg*. 

Col. Hitchcock's & Col. Little's reg ts . to furnish the fatigue 
party to Governor's Island tomorrow. The remainder furnished 
by those reg 1 ". to be upon the " Abatee" between fort Putnam & 
the redoubt on the left of it, & the Cap. from fort Putnam to the 
half moon. L l . Col. Johnson's 5 ■Co", of the 4 th battalion of 
Pennsylvania Reg 1 . (Wayne's) to furnish the fatigue party for 
Cobble Hill. Col. Varnum's Reg 1 , to be employed on his alarm 
post. The Gen. disapproves of the report for the establishment -V 
of the rank of the 12 th reg*. & directs the same court to sit 
again day after tomorrow to examine the rank of the Cap". & to 
report how the court conceives they ought to rank, & how it may 
be most equitably established. 


June 21, 1776. 

For guard L l . Burnham, for Red Hook tomorrow night L*. 


June 21, 1776. 

IA Huse is requested to oversee the well-digging in fort 
Greene, no men for Governor's Island & 40 for Red Hook. 


Those that are to go on the Island to be at S l . George's Ferry by 
8 o'clock. The others to march to Red Hook as soon as they 
have had their breakfasts. 

June 2S, 1776. 
Picket guard to mount from the 9, 11, 12, Reg'". The 9 & 11 
Reg" to lie in their alarm posts — the la** to lie in the oblong re- 

GENERAL ORDERS. Quarters, June 29. 

. . . . The Commissary Gen. to lodge a fortnights provi- 
sion on Governor's Island, Powles Hook & in all y° detached 
posts, Gen. Putnam furnishing him a list of the men. 

All soldiers intrusted with the defence of any work will behave 
with coolness & bravery, & will be careful not to throw away 
their fire. The Gen. recommends them to load for their first fire 
with one musket ball & 4 or 8 buckshot according to the size and 
strength of their pieces. If the enemy are received with such a 
fire at not more than 20 or 30 yards distance, he has no doubt of 
their being repulsed. 

Brig. Gen 1 ", to order Chevaux de Freze 5r Fascines to close the 
sally ports of their respective works. 26000 musket cartridges to 
be sent Col. Prescott on Gov r . Isl' 1 . 

Head Quarters, June 30. 
.... Upon the signal of the enemy's approach or on any 
alarm all fatigue parties are to repair to their respective corps ready 
for instant action. Working parties are not otherwise to be inter- 
rupted in finishing the defences. ... 

gen. grf.ene's orders. 

In Camp Lono Island, July 1, 1776. 

Col", or coram 11 , officers of 9 11 ', n"', 12 th , Reg'", arc desired to 

make a line round each of the forts & fortifications for the 

troops to begin a fire on the enemy if they attempt to storm the 

works & the troops are to be told not to fire sooner than the ene- 

- ■ 



my's arrival at tliese lines, unless commanded. The line should 
be about 80 yards from the parapet. 

Com*, officers of the guards at Forts Green & Putnam to send 
a patrolling party to patrol about the % of a mile to prevent a 
surprise by a partisan party. 

The general thanks both officers & soldiers who turned out 
voluntarily to work upon the Little Cobble hill ; such public spirit 
is laudable & shall not go unrewarded, if the gen 1 , ever hasrit in 
hispower to make a more suitable acknowledgement. 
''No officer below the rank of a field officer to lodge out of camp 
from their Co", on any pretence, sickness excepted. The General 
recommends the strictest discipline & daily attention to arms & 
ammunition. Brigade being sickly the Gen. recommends the 
strictest attention to the cookery & that broiling & frying meat so 
destructive to health be prohibited. 

A picket of one hundred to go to Red Hook to night by order 
of a private message from his Excellency. 

Tuesday July 2 d , 1776. 
A picket of 50 men in fort Putnam, 25 in fort Box, a serg'. & 
12 men at the milldam from the 9 th , 11 th , 12 th Reg". A picket 
of 20 men at fort Sterling & 25 at Smithes redoubt on Cobble Hill. 
Upon an alarm Col. Ward's reg'. of Jersey militia to form in the 
rear of Fort Green, the sentries to be placed at the front of the 
redoubts. Major of Brigade to see to them. Patrols to be kept 
up from fort Putnam every hour. 

July 4, 1776. 

Officers of the guards at y° different posts to be accountable for 
everything in the forts but particularly for the rum lodged there 
for the people in time of action. Any one destroying the tools or 
taking the liquor without leave will be punished. 

Every Reg 1 , to furnish pickets for their alarm posts & to be 
credited therefor in the detail for duty. The 9 th , 11 th , 12 th , Reg u . 
& the N. J. battalions under Col. Cadmus & Col. Ward to furnish 
a fatigue party of 250 men tomorrow morning. Garrison Court 
martial to sit tomorrow, Col. Little president. Cap", earnestly 
requested to examine the arms and ammunition of their Co". & 
have them ready for action at all times. 



Camp at Brooklin, July 6, 1776. 
The Ferry guard upon a night alarm are to repair to fort Ster- 
ling. The ground to be levelled from which Col. Hitchcock's 
Reg 1 , moved. 233 men for picket from Col. Varnum's, Hitch- 
cock's & Little's Reg u . 66 men from the same for guard. 

July 8, 1776- 
Col. Varnum's Reg 1 , to remove their encampment to Red Hook, 
& do the duty of that post. Col. Forman's N. J. reg 1 . to camp on 
the ground lately occupied by Col. Hitchcock's reg 1 . 

July 8, 1776. 
Col. Forman's Reg*, to occupy Col. Varnum's old alarm posts, 
namely, Fort Box and the Oblong redoubt. Brigade Major to 
lead the troops to the alarm Post at 7 a.m. The guard for the 
several works to be continued the same as before from the n lh & 
12 th of the old establishment & the Jersey new levies, that the new 
levies may have the benefit of the knowledge of the standing troops. 


Head Quarters, July 9, 1776. 

. . . . The Continental Congress impelled by the dictates 
of duty, policy and necessity have been pleased to dissolve the 
connection which subsisted between this country & G*. Britain, & 
to declare the colonies of North America, Free & Independent 
States — the several Brigades are to be drawn up this evening on 
their respective parades at 6 o'clock when the declaration of Con- 
gress, showing the grounds and reasons of the measure is to be 
read with an audible voice. The Gen. hopes that this important 
Point will serve as a fresh incitement to every officer & soldier to 
act with courage & fidelity, as knowing that now the Peace & 
safety of this country depend (under God) solely on the success 
of our arms, & that he is now in the service of a state possessed 
of sufficient power to reward his merit & advance him to the high- 
est honor of a free country. 

The Brigade Majors are to receive copies of the declaration to 
be delivered to the Brig". & Col". 



gen. greene's orders. 

July 9, i 77 6. 

Adj'. for the day to carry the Parole & countersign to the 
guards at Red Hook, Smith's Barbette, Fort Box, Fort Green & 
forts Putnam & Sterling, & the ferry guard. 

A fatigue tomorrow of ioo men for Smith's Barbette. 

July 10, 1776. 

Deputy Commissary, Mr. Brown, to issue provisions 3 times a 
week, Tu. Th. & Saturdays. 

Putrid fevers prevailing among the troops, the troops are forbid 
going into the water only in the mornings and evenings, being 
dangerous in the heat of the day. 

A fatigue party of 150 to be furnished from the 11 th & 12 th & 
Col. Forman's Regt. for Smith's Barbette to be continued till it is 

July 11, 1776. 

Fatigue parties to be turned out to be at work on the Hill by 
five in the morning. 

Camp Long Island, July 16, 1776. 

Prisoners sent to the main Guard by the Field officer of the day 
with or without arms, unless sooner released by him or the Gen. 
are only to be kept till the mounting of the new guard, unless a 
crime be delivered to the Cap. of the guard in writing against 
(the prisoners) by the person that committed them, with his name 
to it. 

IA Col. Cornell & Cap. Warner are appointed to oversee /he 
works at Smith's Barbette & complete them. They are to be ex- 
cused from all other duty. Fatigue parties for the future are to 
work as long as the Col", think advisable every cool day. The 
general wishes the troops to be as industrious as possible, lest the 
enemy attack (the works) before they are done. 

A subaltern's Guard to mount at Rapalyea's mill upon the point 
every night, to continue till sunrise. 


Head Quarters, July 18 1776. 

2 guns from fort Cobble Hill on Long Island to be a signal that 
the enemy have landed on that Island. 


gen. Greene's orders. 

July 18, 1776. 
Field officer of the day tomorrow, IA Col. Henderson, Adj'. 

from Col. Little's 

Patrolling parties to be sent out every hour to advance as 
silently as possible & to stop & listen every few rods, to discover 
spies lurking around the works. 

Camp on Long Island, July 19 1776. 

The works on Cobble Hill being greatly retarded for want of 
men to lay turf, few being acquainted with that service, all those 
in Col. Hitchcock's & Col. Little's Reg 1 ", that understand that 
business, are desired to voluntarily turn out every day, & they 
shall be excused from all other duty, & allowed j£ a pint of rum 
a day. 

Half the fatigue party to work tomorrow at fort Sterling in 
widening the ditch. L l . Col. Cornell will detach the party & give 
the necessary instructions. Cap. Newell of the Train to mount 
an artillery guard on Smith's Barbette, on Cobble Hill, of a Ser- 
geant & 6 men. 

F. Officer of the day tomorrow Major Parker, Adj 1 . from Col. 
Forman's Reg 1 . (New Jersey). 

July 22, 1776. 

F. Off. tomorrow, Col. Forman, Adj 1 . from his reg*. 

The Col', or C 8 . Off", of the 1", 9 th , 11 th , 12 th Regiments are 
requested to send in a return of vacancies, with a list of names to 
fill them, by tomorrow at 9 a.m. The 11 th , 12 th & Col. Forman's 
Reg ts . are to parade on the regimental parade tomorrow a.m. in- 
stead of going to their alarm posts. Com 6 , off. of each reg 1 . will 
receive orders on the spot when & where to march. 

The duties being exceedingly heavy on the men, the Gen 1 , 
thinks proper to lessen the fatigue party Y* & reduce the guard in 
forts Green & Putnam yj, & a Serj 1 . & 12 men to mount in fort 
Box, instead of the present guard. 

July 24, 1776. 
A fatigue party of 40 men & 1 sub. to cut fascines to parade 
this p.m. 4 days provisions to be provided. Passengers going into 


the city not to be stopped at the ferry unless there is reason to 
suspect them. No one to come out without a proper pass. Fa- 
tigue for home duty to be lessened as much as the number de- 

In Camp Long Island, July 28, 1776. 

The success of the campaign must depend on the health of the 
troops ; nothing should be neglected that contributes to it. Good 
Policy as well as humanity claims the attention of every officer to 
this object ; our honor as well as our success depends on it. 

The good officer discharges his duty not only in one but in 
every respect. It is a mistaken notion that the minutiae of mili- 
tary matters is only an employment for little minds. Such an offi- 
cer betrays a want of understanding and showeth a person igno- 
rant of the necessary dependence and connection of one thing 
upon another. What signifies knowledge without power to exe- 
cute ? He who studies the Branches of military knowledge relat- 
ing to Dispositions, & neglects to preserve the health of his troops 
will find himself in that disagreeable situation. 

The general is pained to discover inattention to the digging 
and filling vaults for the reg u . & to the burial of filth and putrid 
matter. The general directs camp Columen (?) of the several reg u . 
to dig new vaults, and fill up old ones "every 3 days, & that fresh 
dirt be thrown in every day to the vaults, & that all filth in and 
about the camp be daily buried. The sickly season coming on, & 
Putrid fevers prevailing, the Gen. recommends a free use of vege- 
tables & desires the men may keep themselves & clothes clean, & 
cook their provisions properly ; & little injury is to be dreaded. 
A neglect of these matters at this critical season may be attended 
with dreadful consequences. 

f~ Complaints are made of the troops stealing water mellons. Such 
practices must be punished. A few unprincipled rascals may ruin 
the reputation of a whole corps of virtuous men. The General 
desires the virtuous to complain of every offender that may be 
detected in invading people's property in an unlawful manner, 
whatever his station or from whatever part of the country he may 

Aug. i, 1776. 

All the straw bunks & in y c different reg". occupied by 

the well to be collected for the sick of Col. Forman's reg'. A scr- 


geant & 8 men to be employed cutting wood for a coal pit for the 
armorers shop — apply to master armorers for orders. 

In Camp Long Island, Aug. 4, 1776. 

4 Co*, of Col. Gay's reg 1 . to take fort Sterling for their alarm 
post & 4— Cobble Hill. 

The countersign having spread too generally in the camp, & 
amongst many that don't belong to the army, the Gen 1 , orders 
every person to be punished who is base enough to discover it to 
those who have no right to it. 

No person allowed to pass after 10 o'clock with or without the 
countersign within the limits of the camp or circle of the sentries, 1 
except Gen 1 . & Field Officers, Brigade Majors & expresses. [^ ' 
This order extends to inhabitants as well as the army. __._— — ■ — r 

A fatigue party from Col. Little's, Col. Forman's & Col. Gay's 
reg u . of 200 men, properly officered, to work at Fort Sterling 
tomorrow. Col. Gay or the com*, officer of his reg 1 . is directed to 
lead his troops into their alarm posts at 5 o'clock this afternoon. 
Officers are directed to acquaint themselves with the ground for 
miles about their camps. 

Morning »Orders, Aug. 6, 1776. 
Commanding Officers of fortifications are requested to pay par- 
ticular attention to y° provisions lodged at each alarm post for the 
support of the troops in case of seige, and also that y° water casks 
& cisterns are filled & when the water is bad to have it pumped 
out & fresh water put in. 

Aug. 6, 1776. 
By a deserter from Sir Peter Parker's fleet we learn that the 
Hessians, from England, & Clinton's troops from S. Carolina are 
arrived & (hat the enemy meditate an attack on this Island & the 
city of New York. The Gen 1 , wishes to have the troops"provided 
with every thing necessary to give .them a proper reception. Cap", 
are directed to examine the arms of their co". immediately. 

Aug. 8, 1776. I 

A sub. & 20 men to parade immediately to march to Jamaica. \ 
Let the men be decently dressed, & the officers keep them from 


offering insolence or abuse to any person. They are to escort & 
assist L\ Skinner & wait there for his directions. 

Aug. 9. 1776- 
A report from Col. Hand mentions a large number of regulars 
drawn up at Staten Island Ferry, & boats to embark in. No offi- 
cer or soldier to stir from his quarters that we may be ready to 
march at a moment's warning if necessary. 

Aug. 16, 1776. 

Col. Smith (L. I. militia) to app 1 an Adj 1 ., Q. M. & Serf Maj. 
& Q. M r . Serf to his reg 1 ., & to have the troops in his reg 1 not on 
duty exercised daily in learning the necessary manoeuvres and 

Gen 1 '. Nixon and Heard are to furnish a fatigue party from 
their brigades and to form the necessary lines from fort Box to 
fort Putnam. The gin shops and houses selling liquor, strictly 
forbidden to sell to soldiers, excepting near the two ferries. 

The inhabitants of houses near the lines are immediately to 
move out of them, and they are to be appropriated to the use of 
the troops. The General is determined to have any soldiers pun- 
ished that may be found disguised with liquor, as no soldier in 
such a situation can be fit for defense or attack. 

The General orders that no sutler in the army shall sell to any 
soldier more than 1 gill of spirits per day. If the above orders 
are not adhered to, there shall no more be retailed out at all. 

The Colonels of reg 1 ". lately come in are immediately to make 
returns to the Gen 1 , of their number of men & where they are quar- 
tered. Col. Hitchcock's and Smith's Reg u are to do. duty in 
Gen 1 . Nixon's brigade — Col". Van Brunt's and Gay's Reg u . to do 
duty in Gen 1 . Heard's brigade. Cap" in the brigades are to be 
particularly careful that the Rolls are called 3 times a day & that 
the troops do not stray from quarters. _ 


Head Quarters, Aug. 20, 1776. 
. . . . General Sullivan is to take command on Long 
Island till Gen. Greene's state of health will permit him to resume 
it. Brig. L' 1 Sterling is to take charge of Gen 1 Sullivan's divi- 


[No. 2.] 

[Colonel Littles Order Hook] 

[Long Island,] August 20, 1776. 
Field OfP of the Day tomorrow, Col. Phipps, (?) Adj 1 from 
Col. Little's reg\ 

August 2V % , 1776. 

Five hundred men to be on fatigue to-morrow to be on the 
works by 8 o'clock, to leave at 12, & begin at 2 o'clock, & work 
till half past 6. Nothing can be more disagreeable to the Gen 1 , 
than to call upon the men to be so constantly on fatigue, but their 
own salvation, and the safety of the country requires it. He 
hopes that in 2 or 3 days more the encampment will be so secure 
that he can release the men from fatigue and give them an oppor- 
tunity to rest from their labors. Adj'. of the day to attend at the 
Gen 1 ", quarters every morning at 8, and an orderly from each 
brigade daily. Four men are to be drafted to row the Gen 1 ' 
boat and do no other duty. The Brigade majors, upon receiving 
orders from Head Quarters are to call at Gen. Sullivan's quarters 
for his orders, or send adj" to take them off. 

Col. Johnson's and Newcomb's reg 1 * are to consider the woods 
on the west side of the creek as their alarm post, and repair there 
in case of an alarm. Gen. Nixon will show the ground this even- 
ing at 6 o'clock to the coram 8 officers of the Reg 1 ". 

Aug. 23. 1776. 

The men not to turn oufet to their alarm posts .this afternoon, 
(but) to get 2 days' provision's ready, & to be at their alarm posts 
to-morrow morning by 3 o'clock in order for action. 

Col". Miles & Ransom's (Remsen's of L. I.) reg 1 ". to take pos- 
session of the Bedford road this night — Col. Ransom's reg 1 . to 
march at 5 o'clock. Col. Miles' reg 1 . is on the spot. Col". Lit- 
tle's & Hitchcock's Reg 1 " to possess the Flatbush road & Col". 
Johnson's Sc Martin's to take possession of the road near the river. 


All these rcg'". to be at their posts by 6 o'clock. Upon their arri- 
val the troops now there are to retire to their encampments & get 
2 days provisions dressed, & be ready for action. The Gen. will 
never make a 3rd. requisition to the majors of brigade, to attend 
for orders. 

Long Island Aug. 24 1776. 

A return to be made to the Gen. this afternoon at 5 o'clock of 
all y* Light Horse & companies of troop within the lines. The 
adj 1 . of Col. Little's regiment is to attend at Gen 1 *, quarters at 7 
o'clock a.m. to-morrow. 

The Gen 1 , returns his thanks to the brave officers & soldiers 
who with so much spirit & intrepidity repulsed the enemy & de- 
feated their designs of taking possession of the woods near our 
lines. He is now convinced that the troops he has the honor to 
command, will not, in point of bravery, yield to any troops in the 
universe. The cheerfulness with which they do their duty, & the 
patience with which they undergo fatigue evince exalted senti- 
ments of freedom, & love of country gives him most satisfactory 
evidence that when called upon they will prove themselves worthy 
of that freedom for which they are now contending. 

Col. Ramsons (Remsen's) Reg 1 , to mount no guard except 
* quarter guard of 12, but be considered a fatigue party, to which 
they are to attend from day to day. The Gen 1 , is sorry to find 
that Reg 1 , flying from their posts, when timid women would have 
blushed to have betrayed any signs of fear at any thing this reg 1 . 
discovered at the time of their flight. 

Officers are requested to see that their men always keep at least 
2 days provisions, ready dressed by them. The Commissary is to 
deal out one gill of rum per man each day on this Island until fur- 
ther orders. Soldiers are not to be out of their encampment but 
upon urgent business. Gen. Nixon to take command of the lines 
next the enemy until further orders, to post his men in the edge 
of the woods next the enemy. Brig de Majors to attend punctually 
at the Gen 1 ' 8 , quarters at 10 a.m. — 

Long Island Aug. 25 1776. 
The following arrangement to take place on Long Island until 
further orders— Viz : Col. Mile's 2 battalions, Col. Atlee's, Col. 
Lutzs, Major Hayes, Col. Lashers and Drake's to be formed into 


one brigade under the command of Gen. LA Stirling. Col. 
Hand's, Prescott's, (Late) Nixon's, Varnum's, Hitchcock's, Lit- 
tle's, Smith's, & Ramson's to be under Gen. Nixon. Wylly's, 
Huntington's, Taylor's, (Tyler's) Silliman's, Chester's, & Gay's 
under Gen. Parsons ; Johnson's, Courtlandt's, Martins, Newcombs 
& Freeman's (Forman's), under the command of Brig. Gen Hurd. 
The General orders that the Brig", attend at Head Quarters at 
8 a.m. to-morrow for directions. Brig d0 Major Box is appointed 
to act as Adj'. Gen 1 , for this department until further orders. 

A Brig r . Gen 1 , of the Day to attend the Grand Parade at Guard 
mounting at 10 a.m., every day afterwa' -1. -ii/whose duty it shall 
be to see that the guards are regularly made up, & properly posted 
& duly relieved. No firing at the outposts to be allowed on any pre- 
tense, except by permission of the Com 6 Gen. of the day, & none 
within the lines except by permission. This order not to extend 
to sentries on guard. 

Brig', for the day Gen. L d . Stirling. 

The Gen. is surprised to find the soldiers strolling about, noU 
withstanding repeated orders, miles distant from the lines, at a 
time when the enemy are hourly expected to make an attack. The 
officers are enjoined to cause the arrest of any soldier who shall 
be found strolling without the lines unless they can show a writ- 
ten permit from their Cap. or Com*, officer* of the reg 1 . or com- 
pany. All the officers and soldiers are to keep within their quar- 
ters, unless ordered on duty. 

All troops in this department are desired to wear a green bough 
or branch of a tree in their hats, till further orders. 

Col. Ward's Regt. to be added to Gen. Parson's brigade. All 
the troops not 1 

All other troops not mentioned and those which may be sent here 

1 The order breaks off at this point in Colonel Little's book, but it is for- 
tunately preserved entire in an orderly book kept by Captain John Doug- 
lass, of Philadelphia. (Hist. Mag., vol. ii., p. 354.) The following order 
from General Lord Stirling also appears in Captain Douglass's book : 

[Long Island] August 25"' 1776. 
" The Adjutants of each Corps of this Brigade arc to attend Brigaflc 
Major Livingston at Gen. Sullivan's Quarters every morning at 9 o'clock 
to receive the orders of the day. The Weekly Returns arc to be brought 
in this day. Such regiments as have tents arc to encamp within the lines 
as soon as possible." 



.... __ , 


i IN 


without a General Officer to command them are to be considered 
as a part of Lord Stirling's Brigade till further orders. 

A return of the several Brigades to be made immediately. 
Eight hundred (men) pron*" 1 " officered to relieve the troops on 
Bedford Road to-morrow morning, six field officers to attend 
with this party. The same number to relieve those on Bush (Flat- 
bush) Road, and an equal number those stationed towards the 
Narrows. A picket of three hundred men under the command 
of a Field Officer, six Captains, twelve Subalterns to be posted at 
the wood on the west side of the Creek every night till further 

'It is a very scandalous practice unbecoming soldiers whose 
duty it is to defend the liberty and property of the Inhabi- 
tants of the country to make free with and rob them of that prop- 
erty ; it is therefore ordered that no person belonging to this army 
do presume on any pretense whatever to take or make use of any 
Corn, Poultry or Provision, or anything else without the consent 
of the owners nor without paying the common price for them ; 
any breach of this order will be severely punished. The Com- 
manding Officer of each Regiment and Company is to see this 
order communicated to their respective corps and to see it carried 

into execution » 

Brigadier Lord Stirling to command the front of our lines next 
Hudson's River and to command the reserve within the lines, and 
when either of the other Brigade Generals have the command of 
the Advance Lines Lord Stirling is to have command of his post 
in his absence. Each Brigadier General to assign the Alarm 
Posts to the several Regiments under their command. 

[No. 3-] 

Head-Quarters Long Island Aug. 29, 1776. 
Parole, Suu-ivan, / 
Countersign, Green, f 

As the sick are an encumbrance to the Army, & Troops arc 

expected this afternoon from the flying camp in Jersey, under Gen' 

Mercer, who is himself arrived & room & cover is wanted for the 


troops, the commanding Officers of Rcgt's arc immediately to have 
such sick removed. They arc to take their Arms & Accoutre- 
ments &; be conducted by an Officer to the Gen 1 Hospital, as a 
rendezvous & then to cross to-gcther under the directions of the 
Person appointed there, taking general Directions from Dr Mor- 
gan. As the above Forces under Gen 1 Mercer are expected this 
afternoon, the General proposes to relieve a proportionate Number 
of Regiments & make a change in the situation of them. 

The Commanding Officers of Regiments are therefore to parade 
their men with their Arms, Accoutrements, and Knapsacks, at 7 
"Clock, at the Head of their Encampments & there wait for Orders. 1 

[From Ms. Order Book of Col. Wm. Douglas.] 

Head-Quarters, New York, August 31, 1776. 
(Parole, Harlem.) (Countersign, Flushing.) 

. . . . Both officers and soldiers are informed that the re- 
treat from Long-Island was m ade by the unanimous advice of.aJl 
the General Officers, not from any doubts of the spirit of the 
troopSflbut-because-theyfound the troops very much fatigued,, 
with hard duty, and divided into many detachments, while the 
enemy had their main body on the Island, and capable of receiv- 
ing assistance from the shipping. In these circumstances it was 
thought unsafe to transport the whole of an Army on an Island, 
or to engage them with a part, and therefore unequal numbers ; 
whereas now our whole Army is collected together, without water 
intervening, while the enemy can receive little assistance from 
their ships. Their Army is, and must be, divided into many 
bodies, and fatigued with keeping up a communication with their 
ships ; whereas ours is connected and can act together. They 
must effect a landing under so many disadvantages, that if officers 
and soldiers are vigilant, and alert to prevent surprise, and add 
spirit when they approach, there is no doubt of our success. . . 
[Force, 5th Series, Vol. I., p. 1248.] 

1 The series of Washington's general orders in Force's Archives does 
not contain this order of August 29th, which throws light on the preparations 
made for the retreat. It is found, abridged, in both Col. Little's and Capt. 
Douglass's order books ; in Col. Douglas's book it appears in the above 
form. Original in the possession of Benjamin Douglas, Esq., Middletown, 



[No. 4.] 

Head-Quartkrs, Colonel Roger Morris's House, ten miles from) 

New York, September 19, 1776.) 

Gentlemen : I was honoured the night before last with your 
favor of the 13th instant, and at the same time that I conceive 
your anxiety to have been great, by reason of the vague and un- 
certain accounts you received respecting the attack on Long 
Island, give me leave to assure you that the situation of our affairs, 
and the important concerns which have surrounded me, and which 
are daily pressing on me, have prevented me from transmitting, in 
many instances, the intelligence I otherwise should have conveyed. 

In respect to the attack and retreat from Long Island, the pub- 
lick papers will furnish you with accounts nearly true. I shall 
only add, that in the former we lost about eight hundred men ; 
more than three-fourths of which were taken prisoners. This mis- 
fortune happened in great measure, by two detachments of our 
people who were posted in two roads leading through a wood, in 
order to intercept the enemy in their march, suffering a surprise, 
and making a precipitate retreat, which enabled the enemy to lead 
a great part of their force against the troops commanded by Lord 
Stirling, which formed a third detachment, who behaved with 
great bravery and resolution, charging the enemy and maintaining 
their posts from about seven or eight o'clock in the morning till 
two in the afternoon, when they were obliged to attempt a retreat, 
being surrounded and overpowered by numbers on all sides, and 
in which many of them were taken. One battalion (Smallivood's 
of Maryland) lost two hundred and fifty-nine men, and the general 
damage fell upon the regiments from Pennsylvania, Delaware and 
Maryland, and Colonel Huntington s, of Connecticut. 

As to the retreat from the Island, it was effected without loss 
of men, and with but very little baggage. A few heavy cannon 
were left, not being moveable on account of the ground's being 
soft and miry through the rains that had fallen. 

The enemy's loss in killed we could never ascertain ; but have 
many reasons to believe that it was pretty considerable, and 


exceeded ours a good deal. The retreat from thence was abso- 
lutely necessary, the enemy having landed the main body of their 
army there to attack us in front, while their ships of war were to 
cut off the communication with the city, from whence resources 

of men, provisions, &c, were to be drawn 

I have the honour to be, &c, 

Go. Washington. 
To the Hon. Jeremiah Powell, Esq., President, &c. 

[Force, 5th Scries, Vol. II., p. 399.] 

[No. S-] 



Long Island 29 Aug 1776. 
. . Before this reaches you the account of the battle off 
Tuesday last will arrive — 'tis impossible to be particular in a nar- 
rative of the matter as many are yet missing, who we hope may 
come in. In the night of the 26 th nine Regiments of the English 
troops perhaps about 2500 with Field artillery &c passed the 
Western road near the Narrows from the flat land, for our lines. 
We had a guard of 400 or 500 men posted in the wood, who about 
three o'clock Tuesday morning gave notice of the enemy's approach, 
a body of about 1500. We immediately marched down to opposc- 
the progress of the enemy. We took possession of a hill about 
two miles from camp and detached Col Atlee with a Reg't of 
Delaware [Penn.] to meet them further on the road ; in about 60. 
rods he drew up & received the enemy's fire & gave them a well 
directed fire from his Reg't, which did great execution & then 
retreated to the hill ; from thence I was ordered with Col Atlee 
& part of his Reg't & Lt Col Clark with Col Huntington's Reg'd 
to cover the left flank of our main body. 

This we executed though our number did at no time exceed- 
300 men & we were attacked three several times by two Regiments- 
y° 44 th & 23 d and repulsed them in every attack with consider- 




able loss. The number of dead we had collected together & the 
heap the enemy had made we supposed amounted to about 60. 
We had 12 or 14 wounded prisoners who we caused to be dress'd 
& their wounds put in the best state our situation would admit. 
About 10 o'clock we found a large body of the enemy had ad- 
vanced on the other roads near our lines, but a constant fire was 
kept up on the enemy till about 12, when we found them fast ad- 
vancing on our rear to cut off our retreat. Our little main body 
advanced boldly up to the enemy in the rear & broke through 
their lines and secured the retreat of most of the party ; but it fared 
still harder with my little party who had three times repulsed the 
enemy in front and once in the rear ; we had no notice of the re- 
treat of the main body till it was too late for us to join them, the 
enemy having cut off our retreat on three sides & the main body 
having broke through the enemy's lines on the other side and left 
them between us. We had no alternative left but force through 
one line into a thick wood, which we attempted & effected with 
part of our men, the other part with Col. Clark being before sent 
into the wood. When we had made our way into the wood, I was 
accidentally parted from Col. Atlee & most of the men whom I 
have never seen since. I came in with 7 men yesterday morning 
much fatigued. Our loss is impossible to be ascertained. In my 
party a Lt. Col. Parry was killed and one wounded. Our loss in 
killed & wounded is inconsiderable, but many are missing among 
whom are General Sullivan & Lord Sterling. Colonels Miles, 
Atlee, Johnson, Lt. Col. Clark Maj. Wells & several other officers 
of distinction are yet missing. I think the trial of that day far 
from being any discouragement, but in general our soldiers be- 
haved with firmness. 

I am sir, with esteem & Regard 

Yr. Humble Svt. 

Sam'l H. Parsons. 

MORRISANIA Oct. 8, 1776. 

Dear Sir 

Your's of the] 2 d inst I ree'd last night, for which I am 
obliged to you. If any information I can give will contribute to 
your satisfaction or my country's good I am happy in furnishing 
what falls in my observation. I agree fully with you that you 


were in the dark as to some facts relative to the transactions on 
Long Island & am fully satisfied you still remain so, or you could 
not suppose the surprise there was in the day time. To give you 
a clear idea of the matter, I must trouble you with a description 
of that part of the country where the enemy landed, and encamped, 
and the intervening lands between that and our lines. From the 
point of land which forms the cast side of the Narrows, runs a 
ridge of hills about N. E. in length about 5 or 6 miles, covered with 
a thick wood which terminate in a small rising land near Jamaica; 
through these hills are three passes only, one near the Narrows, 
one on the road called the Flatbush Road & one called the Bed- 
ford Road, being a cross road from Bedford to Flatbush which 
lies on the southerly side of these hills ; these passes are through 
the mountains or hills easily defensible being very narrow and the 
lands high & mountainous on each side. These are the only roads 
which can be passed from the south side the hill to our lines, except 
a road leading around the easterly end of the hills to Jamaica. 
On each of these roads were placed a guard of 800 men, and east 
of them in the wood was placed Col Miles with his Battalion to 
watch the motion of the enemy on that part, with orders to keep 
a party constantly reconnoitering to and across the Jamaica road. 
The sentinels were so placed as to keep a constant communication 
between the three guards on the three roads. South of these hills 
lies a large plain extending from the North River easterly to 
Rockaway Bay perhaps 5 miles & southerly to the sound bounded 
on the south by the sound and on the north by the hills. Those 
hills were from two to three miles and a half from our lines. The 
enemy landed on this plain & extended their camp from the River 
to Flatbush perhaps 3 or 4 miles. On the day of the surprise I 
was on duty, and at the first dawn of day the guards from the 
West road near the^ Narrows, came to my quarters & informed 
me the enemy were advancing in great numbers by that road. I 
soon found it true & that the whole guard had (led without firing 
a gun ; these (by way of retaliation I must tell you) were all New 
Yorkers & Pennsylvanians ; I found by fair daylight the enemy 
were through the wood it descending the hill on the North side, 
on which with 20 of my fugitive guard being all I could collect, 
I took post on a height in their front at about half a mile's dis- 
tance — which halted their column & gave time for Lord Sterling 
with his forces to come up ; thus much for the West road — On 



the East next Jamaica Col. Miles suffered the enemy to march 
not less than 6 miles till they came near two miles in rear of the 
guards before he discovered & gave notice cf their approach. 
This also was in the night & the guard kept by Pennsylvanians 
altogether — the New England & New Jersey troops b >ing in the 
other two roads through which the enemy did not attemp f o pass. 

We were surprised — our principal barrier lost by that surprise, 
but as far as the cover of the night is an excuse we have it. — The 
landing of the troops could not be prevented at the distance of 6 
or 7 miles from our lines ; on a plain under the cannon of the ships, 
just in with the shore. Our unequal numbers would not admit 
attacking them on the plain when landed. 

When our principal barrier was lost, our numbers so much in- 
ferior to the enemy, they not disposed to storm our lines, but set 
down to make regular approaches to us — were part of the reasons 
which induced a retreat from thence and a consequent abandoning 
New York — . [ Our sentinels & guards in my opinion were well 
posted, they might have been better, too great security I thought 
prevailed with some leading officers, bufl still am of opinion, if 
our guards on the West road & Col. Miles on East End of the 
hills had done their duty, the enemy would not have passed those 
important heights, without such very great loss as would have 
obliged them to abandon any further enterprise on the Island. . . 
_ 1 I am sir 

, - Your Most Humble Sv't 

Sam'l H. Parsons. 
A< J 

[Originals in possession of Hon. Charles Francis Adams.] 

[No. 6.] 


New York Sept. 6, 1776. 
Dear Sir : 

I received your letter about half an hour ago by the messen- 
gers of the honorable convention, in which you inform me that 
they are anxious to be informed of any transactions at this place 


that may be of use to the State, or otherwise of importance. 
My duty would have directed me to execute this task before 
the receipt of your letter, had I been possessed of the means 
of conveyance. I shall do it now as far as the want of good 
pen and ink, as scarce as almost every other necessary article, will 

I shall begin with our retreat from Long Island. For previous 
to that event the convention was so near the scene of action that 
they must have been acquainted with every occurrence. I was 
summoned to a Council of War at Mr. Philip Livingston's house 
on Thursday 29 11 ' ult. never having had reason to expect a propo- 
sition for a retreat was mentioned. Upon my arrival at the 
lines on the Tuesday morning before, and just after the enemy, 
by beating General Sullivan and Lord Stirling, had gained the 
heights which in their nature appear to have been more defensible 
than the lines were, it was obvious to me we could not maintain 
them for any long time should the enemy approach us regularly. 
They were unfinished in several places when J arrived there, and we 
were obliged hastily to finish them, and you may imagine with 
very little perfection, particularly across the main road, the most 
likely for the approach of the enemy's heavy artillery. In this 
place three of my battalions were placed, the traverse of the line in 
ground so low, that the rising ground immediately without it, 
would have put it in the power of a man at 40 yards' distance to 
fire under my horse's belly whenever he pleased. You may judge 
of our situation, subject to almost incessant rains, without baggage 
or tents and almost without victuals or drink, and in some part 
of the lines the men were standing up to their middles in water. 
The enemy were evidently incircling us from water to water with 
intent to hem us in upon a small neck of land. In this situation 
they had as perfect a command of the island, except the small 
neck on which we were posted, as they now have. Thus things 
stood when the retreat was proposed. As it was suddenly pro- 
posed, / as suddenly objected to it, from an aversion to giving the 
enemy a single inch of ground ; but was soon convinced by the un- 
answerable reasons for it. They were these. Invested by an 
enemy of above double our number from water to water, scant in 
almost every necessary of life and without covering and liable 
every moment to have the communication between us and the city 
cut off by the entrance of the frigates into the East River between 


(late) Governor's Island and Long Island ; which General Mc- 
Dougall assured us from his own nautic experience was very 
feasible. In such a situation we should have been reduced to the 
alternative of desperately attempting to cut our way [through] a 
vastly superior enemy with the certain loss of a valuable stock of 
artillery and artillery stores, which the continent has been collect- 
ing with great pains ; or by famine and fatigue have been made 
an easy prey to the enemy. In either case the campaign would 
have ended in the total ruin of our army. The resolution there- 
fore to retreat was unanimous, and tho' formed late in the day 
was executed the following night with unexpected success. We 
however lost some of our heavy cannon on the forts at a distance 
from the water, the softness of the ground occasioned by the rains 
having rendered it impossible to remove them in so short a time. 
Almost everything else valuable was saved ; and not a dozen men 
lost in the retreat. The consequence of our retreat was the loss 
of [late] Gov rs Island which is perfectly commanded by the fort 
on Red Hook. The enemy however from fear or other reasons 
indulged with the opportunity of two nights to carry off all except 
some heavy cannon. The garrison was drawn off in the afternoon 
after our retreat under the fire of the shipping who are now drawn 
up just behind [late] Gov" Island, and the fire of some cannon 
from Long Island shore ; but with no other loss than that of one 
man's arm. What our loss on Long Island was I am not able to 
estimate. I think the hills might have been well maintained with 
5000 men. I fear their natural strength was our bane by lulling 
us into a state of security and enabling the enemy to steal a march 
upon us. I think from the best accounts we must have killed 
many of the enemy. We are sure that late Colonel and afterwards 
General Grant who was so bitter against us in Parliament, is among 
the slain. General Parsons late Col. and promoted to the rank 
of a general officer escaped from the action and pursuit as by a 
miracle. I believe him to be a brave man. He is a Connecticut 
lawyer. He told me that in the action he commanded a party of 
about 250 men, with orders from Lord Stirling to cover his flank ; 
and that when the enemy gave way, he threw into a heap about 
thirty of the enemy's dead, and that in advancing a little further 
he found a heap made by the enemy at least as large as that which 
he had collected. Lord Stirling had ordered him to maintain his 
ground till receipt of his orders to retreat. However, finding 


that no such orders came ; and finding the enemy by rallying to 
increase on his hands, he flew to the place where Lord Stirling 
was posted, leaving his party on the ground with strict orders to 
maintain it till his return, but he found his Lordship and his whole 
body of troops gone. There can be no doubt but Lord Stirling 
behaved bravely ; but I wish that he had retreated sooner. He 
would have saved himself and a great number of troops from cap- 
tivity, but he refused to retreat for want of orders. We miss him 
much, he was a very active officer. General Sullivan who was 
alsolnade a prisoner in the action on the heights went some day s 
ago on parole to Congress to endeavor to procure his exchange 
for Prescot. I have not heard of his return. Two or three days 
ago the Rose frigate went up between the islands and took shelter, 
after a severe cannonade from us, behind Blackwell's Island. She 
retreated yesterday as far as Corlear's Hook, where she was briskly 
cannonaded till night. I have not heard, of her this morning. 
By the loss on Long Island and the running away of our militia, 
especially those of Connecticut, to their respective homes, our army 
is much diminished, and I am sure is vastly inferior to that of the 


Poor General Woodhull with a lieutenant and four men were 
made prisoners on Long Island. I had a letter from him dated the 
first inst. but not dated from any place, nor does he tell me how 
he was taken. He has lost all his baggage and requested of 
me two shirts and two pairs of stockings, which I should have 
sent him had not the flag of truce been gone before I rec d the 
letter. I shall comply with his request by the first opportunity. 
Commend me with all possible devotion to the honorable Con- 

I am, Sir, 

Your most obedient servant 

Jno. Morin Scott. 

P. S. The army badly paid & wretchedly fed. i ioo men 
arrived from the southward. A deserter tells me be (?) 3000 
foreign troops on Staten island. I know not what the flying camp 
is doing. He says the enemy on Long Island are 26,000. I 
believe this much exaggerated ; and 1000 in the shipping. 

[Original in possession of Hon. John Jay, New York.] 


[No. 7.] 


New York 27 th August 1776. 
Dear Brother 

Since my last the enemy have landed their main force on Long 
Island near New Utrecht Church — between that & Flat Bush, our 
people and theirs have frequent skirmishes in all which our people 
have had the better of them. We have lost several men, killed 
and wounded — . Col. Martin of New Jersey badly wounded in the 
breast, but I hope not mortally. We just have received an account 
of a smart skirmish this morning at break of day — the particulars 
I don't yet know, if I can get them before the gentlemen go who 
bring this I will write you them. Col. Huntington is unwell, but 
I hope getting a little better. He has a slow fever. Maj. Dyer 
is also unwell with a slow fever. Gen'l Greene has been very sick 
but is better. Genls. Putnam, Sullivan, Lord Sterling, Nixon, 
Parsons & Heard are on Long Island and a strong part of our 
army. We have a fine ridge of hills and woods to meet them in 
on Long Island before they come near our lines. 
I am dear Brother your Affectionate 

Jos. Trumbull. 
Jon* Trumbull Jun" Esq. 

P. S. It was true the enemy attacked in the morning — Several 
parties of them penetrated thro' the woods & the whole body are 
now thro' & within 2 miles of our lines. Some parties of them have 
been up to the lines but are drove back, or upon the Heights 
about 2 miles off from the lines. There has been some very 
brisk firing & smart engagements; what numbers are killed or 
wounded on either side — the firing ceases at present but expect it 
renewed again by & by. We have lost a Mr. Rutgers of this 
town, an artillery man & Lt. Col. Parry of Pennsylvania. These 
are all we know yet. 

Your's as before. 
[Original in possession of Henry E. Parsons, Ashtabula, O.] 



[No. 8.] 




' New York, Sept. 1", 1776. 

HoNORF.i) Sir, 

. . . . We have been obliged to retreat from Long Island 
and Governor's Island, from both of which we got off without loss 
of men. We have left a^reat part of our heavy artillery behind. 
The field train is off. We are in hourly expectation that the town 
will be bombarded and cannonaded — and the enemy arc drawing 
their men to the eastward on Long Island, as if they intended to 
throw a strong party over on this island, near Hell Gate, so as to 
get on the back of the city. We are preparing to meet them. 
Matters appear to be drawing near to a decisive engagement. 
Gen. Sullivan is allowed to come on shore, upon his parole, and 1 
go to Congress, on the subject of exchange of himself, Lord Ster- , 
ling, and a large number who are prisoners ; by the best accounts 
we yet have, we have lost, in last week's defeat, about 800 men 
killed and missing; how many of each, is not yet known. I rather 
expect that they will push in a body of troops between the town 
and our posts at and near King's bridge. If they do we shall 
have them between two fires, and must push them to the last ex- 
tremity or be killed or taken prisoners. The event is in the hand 
of the Almighty Disposer of all events. . . . 

I am, honored Sir, 

Your dutiful son, 

Jos. Trumbull. 

[Collections of the R. I. Hist. Soc, Vol. VI.] 



[No. 9.] 



In Camp Long Island June 22 J 76. 
Dear Son — We still continue in Camp at this place. No ar- 
rivals since my last. Some hints this morning that the Torys had 
laid a plan to destroy the general officers of our army. The par- 
ticulars I have not yet. The Reg 1 generally well. 

July 6—1776. 
About 160 ships and transports and other vessels are arrived 
with about 10000 soldiers — Numbers are landed on Staten Island. 
We expect 12000 more to join them. Camp very healthy. I have 
lost only one man since we left Prospect Hill (near Boston). Our 
men in good spirits. I am of opinion our hands will be full — 
hope we shall do well. 

July 31. 1776. 
Ten ships are added to the King's troops — part very large, 
can't say whether they are men of war or transports. This island 
is a place of great importance, & if possible must be defended. 
We are five small reg ts , are scattered, & have 10 forts to defend. 
Col. Hand's Reg 1 is [scattered over 5 miles in length. I am 
posted in fort Green which is the largest. I never desire to give 
it up, nor be taken while I am alive. I am of opinion my reg 1 . 
will stand fast in the cause of the United States. 

August 9, 1776. 

The enemy were seen to embark 30 boats full of men on [3 
vessels & 100 boats full on the other transports. We expected an 
attack, but all is still &: quiet. 

Our enemies have been reinforced by the Hessians & Clinton's 
fleet. Deserters say the enemy are 30,000 strong & Gen 1 . Greene 
judges them 20,000. I think them 16,000. We have only 1600 


fit for duty on Long Island. I shall pay the Q. M. Gen 1 , the bal- 
ance due him for cloathing my reg 1 . this day, which will square 
all accounts. 

Aug. 22 1776. 

I have thought fit to send you roy will — you will take all 
charge necessary &c. 

The enemy this day landed on this Island & marched within 
3 miles of our camp. Three or four regiments lodge within 2 
miles of the enemy. I expect morning will bring us to battle. 

In Camp New York Sep. 1, 1776. 

The enemy left Staten Island & landed on Long Island the 
22 d . Encamped on a large plain 5 or 6 miles across, at Flat 
Bush 4 miles distant. Our troops encamped in the edge of the 
woods in front of them. Our line extended about four miles on 
the night of the 27 th . In the morning, at 2 o'clock, the enemy 
attacked our right wing (a smart engagement for some time). 

The enemy also advanced on the left. Lord Stirling reinforced 
the right wing & defended himself till 12 o'clock when our wing 
gave way. My regt. was in the center on guard. The enemy's' 
right wing almost encircled 2 or 3 regt's & as they were not to- 
gether they were not able to defend themselves & retreated with 
about 20 wounded. Our people came in about 11 o'clock. The 
enemy at the same time with their light horse & English troops 
attempted to force our lines, but soon retreated being met with a 
smart fire from our breast works.! 

Two deserters informed us that the enemies dead & wounded 
was upwards of 500 — I wish ours may not be more. On the 
morning of the 28 th the enemy were encamped on the heights in 
front of our encampment. Firing was kept up on both sides, from 
the right to the left. Weather very rainy. 29 th very rainy. Fir- 
ing by both sides in front of Fort Putnam. About sunset the 
enemy pushed to recover the ground we had taken (about 100 
rods) in front of the fort. The fire was very hot, the enemy gave 
way, & our people recovered the ground. The fire ceased, & our 
people retired to the fort. The enemy took possession again, & 
on the morning of the 30 th had a breastwork there 60 rods long, 
& 150 rods distant from fort Putnam. 


Two ships of war had got up the sound as far as Hell gate by 
this time. The general ordered each reg\ to be paraded on their 
own parades at 7 O'clock P.M. & wait for orders. We received 
orders to strike our tents &: march, with our baggage, to New 
York. Our lines were manned until day break. 

The reason of the retreat was, that we should have had no 
chance to retreat if the ships came up. I am not certain we shall 
be able to keep the city of New York. You may hear of our being 
at King's Bridge. A great battle I think will be fought here, or 
near there. 

I am in a good measure of health. 

I am your affectionate father, 

Moses Little. 
To Mr. Josiah Little. 

In Camp Fort Constitution, Oct. 1, 1776. 
I have been solicited by Gen 1 . Green to remain in the service. 
I before declined, but he will not hear one word about my refus- 
ing to serve. 

[Original in possession of Benjamin Hale, Esq.] 

[No. 10.] 



Long Island 22'' June, 1776. 
My Dear — 

. . . . Last evening a Conspiracy of the Tories was dis- 
covered ; their plan was to murder Gen 1 . Washington, seize on 
the Persons of the other General officers, & blow up our Maga- 
zines, at the Instant of Time the King's Troops should Land. A 
number of our Officers rode last Night to Flat bush on this Island, 
& sei/.'d the Mayor of the City, who is now in safe Custody & 


suppos'd to be in the Conspiracy — several others are also taken 
& the Names of others we have, which I hope we shall soon be 
able to give a good account of. 

In haste, I conclude 

Yours affectionately, 

Wm. Henshaw. 

Aug'. 29"' 1776. 

I have but just time to inform you I am well, as I hope 
this will find you, our Family & Friends. You will undoubtedly 
hear, before you see this, that we have had an engagement with 
the Enemy — were surrounded, & had a Number Killed & Taken. 
I was with the Party who were Surrounded & through a kind 
Providence, got through their fire without being Wounded or 
Taken. — The Particulars of which I have not time to rela f * as the 
Enemy are close to us & we expec£ to be attacked every hour. I 
have wrote to Brother Josy by this conveyance which letter he 
will let you see. — May God Bless & preserve you from every 
disaster, is the unremitting wish of yours &c. 

N. York Sep 1 . 1" 1776. 

Last Friday we left Long Island, (being unable to keep it any 
longer, without being made Prisoners) and came to- New York. 
How long we shall stay here is uncertain — Our Public Enemies 
are numerous — Our private Ones not a few. ~~Happy shall I 
esteem myself, if I live to see these Publick Calamities at an End, 
when we can live peaceably at home & Enjoy the Fruit of our 
Labors, the Sweets of Liberty, & none to molest us: 7 Regiments 
marched to King's Bridge Yesterday Afternoon. Lord Sterling 
& Gen. Sullivan are made prisoners by the Enemy. Sullivan was 
with us yesterday and is now gone to Philadelphia to Congress. 
Numbers of our "People who were surrounded by the Enemy at 
Flat Bush, and we thought were Taken by them, have since got 
in — My Duty to Parents. Love to Sally, Bcttsey, Ruthy & Josey, 
Brothers, Sisters & all Friends, with which I conclude, 

Yours, &c. 



White Plains, Oct'. 3i«», 1776, 

In your last, you want to know whether I was in the Brush or 
Battle, 1 mentioned in my last. — I was- there. In our Brigade was 
Kill'd & Wounded, 75 — in the whole Kill'd & Wounded on our 
side, about 100 — of the Enemy by the best Information we have 
about 500 — since which we have had several Skirmishes. 1 was 
not in them, though I saw several of them. One of them last 
Week was fought by Reed's & Learned's Reg 1 '., where we had 
six — kill'd & a number Wounded ; the Enemy had Kill'd & 
Wounded, about 200 — the same Week, a Scouting Party came 
across the famous Rogers Scouts, with a scouting party of the 
Enemy, took 30 of them Prisoners, & kill'd a number of them — 
This Week we had some Battles with them. Monday the 28 th 
Ins 1 , about 2000 of them came on a height of Land on these 
Plains, Attacked our Picquet, & after some time, forced our 
People to give Back. The Loss on cither side I cannot ascer- 
tain, but suppose we had Kill'd & Wounded near 100, as the Fire 
of Cannon & Small Arms was heavy for some time. The Day 
before, they Attacked our Lines near Fort Washington with two 
of their Brigades & some of their Ships — Their Ships were much 
damaged ; one of them they were obliged to Tow off ; Our 
People at the Lines reserv'd their Fire till the Brigades advanced 
pretty near, then gave them a heavy Fire which caused ihcm to 
Retreat ; they form'd & advane'd the second time, when our 
People gave them the second Fire ; they Retreated as before, & 
form'd the Third time, came up & Fired at the Lines, which was 
so warmly returned, that they Retreated. Our People then 
Jump'd over the Lines, and pursued them, & Kill'd many, but the 
Number is not ascertained. — should I have another Opportunity 
to write, can better inform you : we had but one Kill'd in this 
Battle. We took 14 Hessians one Day this Week, & one English 
Officer; have had several Deserters come in this Week. The 
Enemy are now Encamp'd within Gun shot of us, so that there is 
a continual firing of Small Arms — We let two Hessians, which we 
took some time ago, return to the Enemy's Camp — We daily ex- 
pect an engagement with the Enemy 

Brother Denny was here Yesterday to see me ; is well & 
station'd at Terry Town on the North River about 8 miles from 

1 Harlem Heights, Sept. 16. 


this. Cap 1 . Lincoln Parkman & our Feople in general, were well 
a few Days ago. 

Should I live lo see Peace restor'd & our Rights Secur'd, shall 
prize the Blessing more than ever. I have heard many rumors 
that it would be tedious to write. Last night we took Doc 1 . 
Whitworth's son (of Boston) Prisoner. He was in some office 
with the Enemy. 

[Originals in possession of Miss H. E. Hcnshaw, Leicester, Mass.] 

[No. ii.] 

[Without date.] 
Previous to the Campaign in 1776, there were 3 Reg u com- 
manded by Lt. Colonels. General Washington offered me the 
command of either of them. I conversed with the Officers of these 
Regiments, & I found they were averse to a change ; I informed 
Gen'l W. that if I accepted his offer, it would be injurious to the 
Service and declined it. He then said he hoped I would not leave 
the Service, but would take a Lt. Colonel's commission, which I 
did under Colonel Little, & in April we marched for New York 
in the Brigade commanded by Gen 1 Green. Soon after Gen 1 
Washington came & ordered said Brigade to Long Island. 

The latter part of August, I commanded in a picket guard at 
Flatbush, where the enemy was encamped, who marched by the 
East wing of the Pickets, and formed a line between us and our 
encampments, and knowing the Gen. could not send us orders to 
retreat we marched to reach our encampments. While marching 
in the rear of the enemy's line, they were holding a Council of 
War, whether to storm our lines, or take them by a regular siege. 
They chose the latter. Had they broke their lines and marched 
into our front, we must have been made prisoners ; but they only 
turned on their heels and fired at us and we got in with little loss. 

[Original in possession of Miss II. E. Ilenshaw, Leicester, Mass.] 



[No. 12.] 


Long Island 27 August 1776 7 i\m. 
Dear Kitty : 

Part of the enemy landed on the Island on the 22nd. they did 
not advance farther than Flatbush until last night — I have had a 
fatiguing time of it ever since — A number of our troops have been 
hemned in, but behaved well. Many have got clear and many are 
yet missing. Our Pennsylvanians were chiefly of the party. 

I escaped my part only by being relieved at 2 o'clock this 
morning — Major Burd and Col. Atlee were out and are yet miss- 
ing. Jessy and Jacky are yet with me 

Adieu — May God preserve you 

Your affectionate 

Edward Hand. 
Mrs. Katherine Hand 

Lancaster Pa. , * 

[Original in possession of Mrs. S. B. Rogers, Lancaster, Pcnn.] 

[No. 13.] 

Long Island 3 rd Sept. 1736. 
Dear Sir-. 

I was taken prisoner at an advanced Post on the morning of 
y 1 ' 27"' ult° after a skirmish, on the same day Capts. Herbert and 
Heister were both made prisoners. I was used with great Civility 
by General Grant & admitted to my Parole, Brigadier General 
Agnew and Major Leslie and Major Batt also treated me with 
great Politeness. 



You must be sensible that hard money can only be of service in 
my present situation : The Politeness of several Gentlemen would 
have very fully supplied me with it, but I have only taken what 
will be immediately necessary for me. I should be much obliged 
to you if y\3U could procure me a small Bill of Exchange in which 
perhaps Mr. Dundas of Reading could assist you, or Gold to the 
amount of about j£to. 

I can not learn the fate of poor Col Hand or Jesse Ewing but 
believe they are not prisoners. 

Col Reed, the Adjutant Gen'l will be the only Person who 
can convey any thing to me, my Letter must be short, my Love to 
all the Family. 

I am Dear Sir 

Your Affect Brother [in-law] 

Edw. Burd. 

Jasper Yeates Esq r . 

[Original among the Yeates papers.] 

[No. 14.] 

New York Aug. 30, 1776. 
Honoured Sir: 

After a very fatiguing march we are all safely arrived. The 
Genl. yesterday gave orders for all the Regts on Long Island to 
hold themselves in readiness to march at the shortest notice, and 
evacuate our Lines for the enemy already had extended their ad- 
vanced posts across the Island, & we were entirely surrounded, so 
that the only refuge he had left was New York — This morn'g a 
party about fifty men went a marauding and were surprised by 
the enemy, who after firing whole vollies secured one of the Boats, 
& then the Hessian Riflemen began to play upon them, so* that 
our loss including that of the first engagement amounts to 500 
men & upwards. 

Lord Stirling & Gen 1 . Sullivan are Prisoners, several officers 
are still missing amongst whom are Col. Miles and Atlee — The 


militia from Berks County are almost cut off. The inhuman 
wretches thrust their bayonets through our wounded men and 
refused that mercy to us, which we granted to them. The situa- 
tion of New York is very critical, the enemy being in possession 
of Long Island may reduce it to a Heap of ashes in a days time. 

The loss of the enemy amounts to 1500 men amongst whom 
are a Brigadier Gen' 1 , and several Field Officers. — The Idea which 
we at first conceived of the Hessian Riflemen was truly ridiculous 
but sad experience convinces our people that they are an EnemyN*, 
not to [be] despised, Several Companies of their Light Infantry 
are cloathed exactly as we are, in hunting shirts and trowers— 
Mr. Burd who commanded a detachment of 200 men is not yet 
returned, and sorry am I to say it, he is a Prisoner amongst them. 
— as this news must certainly afflict Aunt and the whole family, I 
have forwarned my Brother from making any mention of it. 

Please to give my duty to Aunt, mammy, Kitty and my love to 
all the children, 

I remain, Hon rd Sir 

Y r dutiful & obliged Nephew 

J. Ewing. 

To Jasper Yeatks, Esq r . 

[Original among the Ycatcs papers.] 

[No. 15.] 

" To Jasper Ycates Esq. at fort Pitt." 

Lancaster Sept. 14, 1776. 
Hon" Sir : 

As it has pleased Divine Providence to spare my Life, I think 
it my Duty to send you as good an act. of the Engagement to- 
gether with the enclosed Draught as lays in my power, as I had 
gone from Elizabeth Point New Jersey to Long Island to see my 
brothers I had an opportunity of seeing everything that occurred 
from the Time the Enemy landed on the Island untill a Day or 
two before we retreated from thence. Col. Hand's Regmt. had 
been on duty 2 days &: the second Night were relieved between 


r Hi" 


I \ 



• i 

* * 

■N r-H Mi 

^ .1 .si e 1 



? \ * * 




i ■ 

ij «) O q W 

i«. a; h 


12 and i o'clock in the morning and about Two it is thought the 
Enemy began their movements from Flat Bush to the Right, and 
Left, and at between 7 & 8 o'clock in the morning we had the 
mortification from our Lines to see our men commanded by Lord 
Stirling almost surrounded by the Regulars, as they kept their 
stand on a Hill without flinching an inch, The Regulars were firing 
at them like Fury they at last descended then there was a con- 
tinual peal of Small Arms for an Hour or better, our men at last 
partly got off by the Marsh, as in the Draught inclosed, I have 
been very III of a Fever which I got by being cloathed too thin 
and lay at York about 2 Days before our People had made that 
Grand Retreat from the Island which will ever reflect honour to 
our Generals, from York I was removed to King's Bridge twelve 
or fifteen miles from thence, after I had recovered, my Health suf- 
fered from Travelling. The Col , was good enough to send me 
Home in a Carriage which thank God I happily — and dont doubt 
of recovering Health shortly — I am Sir 

Your affectionate 


Jn°. Ewinc 
P. S. 

I shall refer you to the papers for our Loss in the Battle though 
it is with infinite regret I must inform you of Major Burd's being, 
among the prisoners who Lord How treats them with great polite- 
ness. Time will not permitt my saying so much as I would wish 
— I left the Col . & all friends very well at King's Bridge where- 
the Reg 1 , is Stationed as I only left them this day week. 
[Original among the Yeates papers.] 

[No. 16.] 



Hon'ble Sir, 

I rec d . yours with pleasure because it was yours, all the Rest 
was Indignation — We went over to Long Island, a Gen 1 . Engage- 
ment ensued, the Southern Troops i. c Ld Stirlings Battalion bore- 


the Violence of the Attack & repulsed the Enemy but were out- 
numbered at least three to one, & obliged to retire; the Delaware 
Battalion have been complimented as the finest in the Service, 
they stood unmoved in firm Array four Hours exposed to the fire 
of the Enemy, nor attempted to retire till they received Orders 
from the Gen 1 , then effected a most H'oble Retreat up to the mid- 
dle thro a Marsh of Mud & brought off with them 23 Prisoners — 
I fear we shall be outnumbered, expect every moment Orders to 
march off to Kingsbridge, to prevent the Enemy crossing the East 
River & confining us on another Nook, what the Event will be 
•God knows — Lt. Stewart & Harney with 25 Privates fell in our 
Regiment — Ld. Stirling & Gen' Sullivan Prisoners — Miles & 
Atlee the same Piper killed — 250 of Smallmans (Swallwood's) 
missing — Atles cut to pieces — I fear Gen 1 . Washington has too 
heavy a task, assisted mostly by Beardless Boys — if the Enemy can 
coop us up in N. York by Intrenching from River to River, horrid 
will be the Consequences from their command of the Rivers. 

Between five & six thousand Dollars of Continental Money re- 
main in my hands, unknowing what to do with it, I have entrusted 
it to the care of Dr. Rogers & Chaplain Montgomery — if I fall, 
please to take Order in the Matter — I have not time to say one 
Word more, tis the first Letter I have had time to write — please to 
mention to some of your Friends below that I am well, by whose 
Means it may reach Mrs. Haslet — I am with 

Great Esteem, Sir your Most Obed* Humble Servant 

John Haslet. 
Honble Gen 1 Rodney. 

Camp at N. York Aug* 31 st 1776. 

[Original in possession of Cxsar A. Rodney, Esq., Wilmington, Del.], 

[No. 17.] 



Brookline on L. I. Aug" 24 — 1776 
7 o'clock A.M. 

I never was in better Health and Spirits than 

now. On Thursday the enemy landed on Long Island at 3 


o'clock P.M. We had intelligence that our Troops on the Island 
wanted to be reinforced. My Regiment and 3 more were ordered 
over for that purpose. My regt. was ordered down into a woody 
Hill near Red Hook to take Post that night to prevent any more 
troops from landing thereabout. We had the Heavens for our 
Covering and the Earth for my bed, wrapt in my blanket, when 
after posting my Sentries I slept finely. Wus mighty well yester- 
day, and was then ordered here where I & my Regt. now are. 
The enemy are about 3 miles East of our troops, were a part of 
them skirmishing with them all day yesterday and are still on the 
same ground & have killed a number of the enemy. The enemy 
are said to be 8 or 9000 that are landed here. I am posted here at 
a fort & to see some breastworks compleated. By the blessing of 
Heaven I trust we shall be able to give a good acct of the enemy. 
. . . . My love to our Dear Sons & accept the same yourself 
from most affec. & loveing Husband 

P. S. I refer you to Capt. Hawley for Particulars. 

Flatt Bush on Long Island Aug. 25, 1776 
2 o'clock P.M. 
I wrote you yesterday morning from Brookline upon the Drum 
Head in the field as I do now, which I hope you will receive this 
day. . . . Have not so much as a bearskin to lie on, only my 
blanket to wrap me in, for our removals from place to place are so 
quick & sudden that we can have no opportunity nor means to 
convey beds &c, but go only with the cloaths on our backs & 
our blankets and a little ready-cooked victuals. I am now posted 
within about half a mile from the Regulars with my Regt. under the 
Covert of a woody hill to stop their passage into the Country. 
There are a number of Regts posted all around the town within 
about the same distance & for the same purpose. The regulars 
keep up an almost Constant Fire from their cannon & mortars at 
some or other of us, but neither shott nor shell has come near my 
Regt. yet and they are at too great a distance to fire muskets at as 
yet. I have a scouting party going out now to see if they can't 
pick up some or get something from them. I came to this post 
this day at 12 o'clock & shall remain here till this time to-morrow 
if God spares my life, with no other covering than the trees. I 
cant learn anything with respect to them different from what I 
wrote yesterday. The rest of the troops & their Ships lie at 



Statcn Island yet to wait the success of this part of their army, as 
I suppose before they make any other attempt. They have 
wounded in all of our men in 3 days skirmish about 8 or 9 men, 
one or two mortally, which is not half the number that we have 
killed for them beside wounded. . . . 

New York (Brooklyn) Aug 29 1776. 
. . . Have been a stranger to a bed ever since last Wens'" 
day night till last night being relieved from manning a part of the 
lines with my regt. where I had been 36 hours I was invited by 
our mutual friend Major Mott to take part of his bed & have had 
a fine night indeed, the Night before there was a waggon near our 
Lines into which I got & wrapt myself in my Blanket after Twelve 
& half after One was waked & acquainted that the Enemy 
were coming up to force our Lines & we immediately took our 
Places in the Trenches & there remained unlill after Sun Rise, 
but it proved a false Alarm, our Enemy have encamped in plain 
sight of our camp at the distance of about a mile & half, We have 
had no General Engagement yet, but no Day passes without some 
smart & Hot skirmishes between different Parties in which the 
success is sometimes One Way & sometimes another, We are in 
constant Expectation of a General Battle ; no one can be here long 
without geting pretty well acquainted with the whistleing of Can- 
non & musket shott. 

Harlem Heights Sep. i7 ,h 1776. 
. . . . On the morning of last Sabbath we had news that 
the regulars on Long Island were in motion as they would cross 
^the East River & land about 3 miles above the city. At this 
place lay their ships close in with our shores & soon after the reg- 
ulars marched in a large body down to the shore & embarked on 
Board the flat bottomed boats. Upon this their ships began a 
most incessant fire on our lines opposite to them with their grape 
shot from which they were distant but about 50 rods & behind 
which lay Gen 1 . Wadsworth's & Col. Douglass' Brigades until the 
fire was so hot from the ships that they were obliged to retreat. 
On this the regulars landed & fired upon them which completed 
their confusion & they ran away up here & are here now, but a 
part of them were out in yesterday's action & behaved nobly. 


Now as to myself & my brigade we were left to guard the city 
until all the rest of the troops were drawn off & about half an 
hour or an hour after .ill the other troops were gone I was ordered 
with my brigade to march out of the city & man the lines on the 
East river opposite to Bayard's Hill fort. Then I marched & 
saw the regular Army land above me & spread across the Island 
from one river to another until my retreat seemed to be entirely 
cut off & soon after received an order to retreat if I could. 

I attempted it along up through the woods by the North River 
when I came in sight of the enemy several times but kept my 
brigade covered in the woods so that I got thro' them to their 
uppermost guard & they pursued & fired on my rear &: took a 
few of my men. I immediately formed about 300 of my men on 
an Hill to oppose them. On seeing this the regulars fled & I pui- 
sued my retreat & got my brigade safe* here where I am now. 
posted — a particular detail of the risks I ran must be deferred. It 
was supposed by everybody that I & my brigade were entirely cut 

Harlem Heights, 1,7 Sept. 1777. 2 o'cl p.m. 

Yesterday at 7 o'clock in the morning we were alarmed with the 
sight of a considerable number of the enemy on the Plains below 
us about a mile distant. — Our Brigades which form a line across 
the Island where I am were immediately ordered under arms — but 
as the enemy did not immediately advance we grounded our arms 
& took spades & shovels & went to work & before night had 
thrown up lines across the Island — There was nothing before but 
three little redoubts in about a mile & we are at work this day in 
strengthening them. But yesterday a little before noon we heard 
a strong firing about half a mile below us in the woods near where 
we had two Brigades lying as an advanced guard. The enemy in 
a large body advanced in the woods a little before 12 o'cl & began 
a heavy fire on those two Brigades who maintained the fire obsti- 
nately for some time & then they were reinforced by several regi- 
ments & the fire continued very heavy from the musketry & from 
field pieces about two hours — in which time our people drove the 
regulars back from post to post about a mile & a half & then left 
them pretty well satisfied with their dinner since which they have 
been very quiet. Our loss on this occasion by the best information 


:-• \ 


is about 25 killed & 40 or 50 wounded. The enemy by the best 
accounts have suffered much more than we. 

A prisoner we have I am told says that Genl. Howe himself 
commanded the regular & Genl. Washington & Genl. Putnam were 
both with our Troops. T hey hav e jound now that when we meet 
them on equal ground we are not a set of people that will Tun 
from them — but that they have now had a pretty good drubbing, 
tho' this was an action between but a small party of the army. 

Camp at White Plains Oct. 29 th 1776. 

. . . . Yesterday about 10 o'clock in the morning we had 
news that the enemy were approaching, when I with my regiment 
& 3 others were ordered out about i}4 miles below our lines to 
take post on a hill to garl them in their march as they advanced. 
We accordingly took our post & mine & one other regiment had 
the advantage of a stone wall right in front at which we had been 
waiting but little time before the enemy came up within 6 or 8 
rods, — when our men rose from behind the wall, poured in a most 
furious fire. 

The enemy retreated & came on several times & were so hotly 
received every time that finally we drove them off from the hill. 
We killed some they did not carry off & some they did. 

I had not one either killed or wounded. On this the enemy 
were coming upon us with a number of field pieces & as we had 
none there to meet them with, we were ordered to retreat over 
West on to another Hill & join another party of men & accord- 
ingly did it & formed a line of battle. We were I believe near 
2000 on the Hill (Chatterton's). The enemy soon brought their 
main body opposite to us & formed them into three lines, one 
back of the other, & a large number of field pieces in their front 
& howitzers with which they threw small bombs on another Hill. 
Then they marched their first line off from the Hill where they 
stood, down into a deep Valley that lay between us & then they 
played on us most furiously with their artillery to keep us from 
meeting their people in the hollow & in short the shot & shells 
came like hail. I lay right in the heaviest of their fire, with my 
men by a fence & had two wounded there & were soon ordered 
to another post further on the line of battle up to which the enemy 
soon came as they did for a long way in lengths. We gave them 


a heavy fire which made them retreat but they soon returned when 
a most furious fire followed which continued for a few minutes 
when their numbers were increased so amazingly that we were 
obliged to retreat which we did thro' a most furious fire from the 
enemy for half a mile for so far there was nothing to cover us 
from it. ... I have lost brt 4 out of my reg't & can hear 
of only 10 or 12 wounded. We are all now within our line & the 
enemy are- posted on a number of the neighboring hills & we ex- 
pected they would have come on this morning when we should 
have had an engagement with both armies but they don't yet 
move & it is now about 12 o'clock." 

[Originals in possession of Mrs. O. P. Hubbard, New York.] 

[No. 18.] 



New»York Sep': 6* b , 1776. 
Dear Sir Your Favour of the i §t Inst 1 : I have this Morning re- 
ceived and r am much obliged to you for it ; in Order to answer 
your Inquiries I must- necessarily give you some Account of our 
out Lines on Long Island before we left it, about 8 or Nine Miles 
below this Town is that Strait of Water commonly called the 
Narrows, from the upper end of it on the Long Island side a Bay 
puts into the Island on a Course about Northeasterly and runs 
into the Land about Two miles ; from the Head of this Bay we 
had a line of Forts & Redoubts all connected by Breast Works 
and some part of it picketed, up Northeasterly and Northerly to a 
Bay on the Northwesterly part of the Island rather above the 
City ; The British Troops landed below the Bay at the Narrows 
and marched to Flat Bush a Place on the Island about 6 or 7 
miles from this city and 3 miles beyond our Lines, flat Bush 
stands near the Westerly Side of a large Plain which is 4 or 5 
miles over and this plain is surrounded from the Southwest to the 
Northeast with a larg Ridge of Hills covered with Woods. 


. r 


through this Ridge there are three roads into the Country, toward 
New York two of them ; and one out to a place called Bedford ; 
At each of these passes which were from 1 to 1^ Mile asunder 
w(fhad strong Guards posted consisting of 600 or 700 Men, the 
other_Forces_ which we had on the Island were posted within the 
LTnes and in the Forts and once in 24 Hours relieved the" Guards 
out at those advanced Posts toward the Enemy ; I was posted out 
on one of these Advanced Posts on Sabbath Day July (August) 
25 th , with my own Regim* and 2 more near by in order [to stop 
the Progress of the Enemy into the Country. I was relieved on 
Monday about half (past) Two & marched Back within the Lines 
to the Place where my Regiment was ordered for their Alarm Post 
in order to man the Lines there in case the Enemy advanced 
which was at the Northern Part of the Lines, and there was 
beside the Regiments that were ordered to man the Lines some 
Regiments as a Corps de Reserve to reinforce any Part of the 
Lines that might be attacked &c- Early on Tuesday Morning 
the Guards at all those Three Avenues were attacked (by) plrllffa- 
that vastly out numbered them, and soon were drove from -their. 
Posts and soon broken at the Same Time. . . . [The conclu- 
sion missing.] 

[Original in possession of Mrs. O.'P. Hubbard, New York.] 

[No. 19.] 

The evening preceding the action, General Washington, with a 
number of general officers, went down to view the motions of the 
enemy, who were encamped at Flatbush. The enemy appeared to 
be striking their tents, and preparing for a march ; whereupon it 
was ordered that 2400 men should be posted as guards, inJhcjCol- 
lowing manner, viz : 800 on the road that leads out of the Jamaica 
road by way of Yellow Hook to Flatbush; these men were posted 
in a woods, at four miles distant from our lines, to oppose the 
enemy if they attempted that road, and to annoy them on their 


march : 800 more were posted in a woods upon the Middle road, 
which" leads out of the Jamaica road to Flatbush, about a mile and 
a half from the lines ; these were posted at about half a mile dis- 
tant from Flatbush, and near a mile from the parting of the road, 
where an abatis was formed across the road, and a breastwork 
thrown up and defended by two pieces of cannon: 800 more 
were posted at the Bedford road, which leads out of the Jamaica 
road, at about three miles distant from our lines ; this party 
was ordered to guard the Bedford road, and to patrol the 
road leading through the New Lots in the east of the Bed- 
ford road, from which it parts at the Halfway House, about 
six miles from the lines, and leads from it to Flatbush. .Five 
officers were also sent out on horseback to patrol the last-mcn- 
UonedToad-and that leading to Jamaica. At 10 o'clock at night 
about 5000 of ~tne~enemy marched by way of the New Lots, and 
arrived, near 2 in the morning, at Halfway House, without being 
discovered ; they took post in a field, and waited for daylight. 
The five officers sent to patrol fell into their hands, and were all 
made 'prisoners. About 3 in the morning a party of the enemy 
advanced into the Western road, leading by Ydlow Hook, and 
attacked our guards ; the guards returned their fire, threw them 
into confusion, caused the whole to halt, and took one prisoner, 
who informed us that he belonged to the regiment which attacked 
our guards, and was by their fire thrown into confusion and 
forced to retreat, and that there were two brigades, of four regi- 
ments each, on their march in that road, commanded by Briga- 
dier-General Grant. At daylight Lord Stirling was ordered with 
two battalions, into that road, to oppose the enemy. He took 
post on an eminence in front of the enemy whereupon a smart 
fight ensued, which lasted near an hour, and then abated. Two 
field-pieces were sent to Lord Stirling, which soon began to play 
upon the enemy, who returned the fire from four field-pieces. 
The two parties stood opposed to each other for near five hours, 
without either seeming to have the advantage, keeping up a con- 
tinual fire from their field-pieces and musketry, with some inter- 
vals. — About 8 o'clock General Sullivan sent (went ?) down the 
flat (bush) middle (road) and inquired of the guards whether 
they discovered any movements of the enemy in cither of the 
roads. He was informed that the whole body of the enemy had 
moved up the Yellow Hook road, whereupon he ordered another 



battalion to the assistance of lord Stirling, keeping 800 men lo 
guard the pass. — About 9 o'clock, the enemy, who came by the 
Halfway House, advancing, began a fire in the rear of the party 
and advanced briskly to attack the men who guarded that Pass. 
General Sullivan hearing at the same instant that the enemy were 
passing through the woods to attack Lord Stirling in the rear, 
ordered 400 men to succor him, and sent him orders to retreat as 
soon as possible. The enemy then wheeled off to the right, and 
marched up to Fort Green in a column to attack. — Upon receiv- 
ing a heavy fire from the lines, were forced to retire. They then 
fell back, and endeavored to cut off Lord Stirling's retreat by 
destroying his party. He, with a party of his troops' made an at- 
tempt on the enemy's left, commanded by Lord Cornwallis, and 
ordered the rest of the troops to retreat across the creek, which 
they did with some loss. The number of the enemy engaged was 
not less than 11,000 ; of ours not more than 3,000. The enemy's 
loss in killed was over 1,000, exceeding ours. 

[From the South Carolina and American General Gatette, Charleston, Oct. 3, 
1776, as reprlntod in the Brooklyn Advocate.} 

[No. 20.] 

In the Spring of 1776, I was appointed to the command of a 
regiment of riflemen, consisting of 1,000 men, formed in two bat- 
talions. . . . My regiment was soon ordered to join the army 
at New York. At that time General Washington had 24,000 men 
in his army, upwards of 7,000 of whom were returned sick and 
unfit for duty. 

On the landing of the British army on Long Island, I was 
ordered over with my rifle regiment to watch their motions. I 
marched near to the village of Flat Bush, where the Highlanders 
then lay, but they moved the next day to Gen'l Howe's camp, and 
their place was supplied by the Hessians. I lay here within can- 
non shot of the Hessian camp for four days without receiving a 


single order from Gen'l Sullivan, who commanded on Long Island, 
out of the lines. The day before the action he came to the camp, 
and I then told him the situation of the British Army; that Gen'l 
Howe, with the main body, lay on my left, about a mile and a-half 
or two miles, and I was onvinced when the army moved that 
Gen'l Howe would *aH-4nto the Jamaica -road, and I hoped there 
were troops there "to watchjhem. Notwithstanding this informa- 
tlon, whiehrhTaeed he might have obtained from his own observa- 
tton, if Tie had attend ed to his duty as a General ought to have 
done; no steps were jaken , but there was a small redoubt in front 
oTThe" village which seemed to take up the whole~bf his attention, 
a"nd"whefe He stayed until the principal part of the British army 
had gotten between him and the lines, by whichnmeansHhe was 
made prisoner as well as^ myself. If Gen'l Sullivan had taken the 
^ equJM t e ~Tffecalifion7"and given his orders agreeablyTo the atten- 
tion of 7Ke~Commander-irPChie7, there would have been few if 
anyprisbriers taken-on^the-27throf August, 1 7 76. As Gordon in 
his history~6T~tfre"war~1iaT7Aarged~ me indirectly with not doing 
my duty, I will here state my position and conduct. 

I lay directly in front of the village of Flat Bush, but on the 
left of the road leading to New York, where the Hessians were 
Encamped. We were so near each other, that their shells they 
sometimes fired went many rods beyond my camp. The main 
body of the Enemy, under the immediate command of Gen'l Howe, 
lay about 2 miles to my left, and General Grant, with another body 
of British troops, lay about four miles on my right. There were 
several small bodies of Americans dispersed to my right, but not a 
man to my left, although the main body of the Enemy lay 
to my left, of which I had given General Sullivan notice. 
This was our situation on the 26th of August. About one o'clock 
at night Gen. Grant, on the right, and Gen. Howe, on my left 
began their march, and by daylight Grant had got within a mile of 
our entrenchments, and Gen. Howe had got into the Jamaica road 
about two miles from our lines. The Hessians kept their position 
until 7 in the morning. As soon as they moved the firing began 
at our redoubt. I immediately marched towards where firing was, 
but had not proceeded more than 1 or 200 yards until I was 
stopped by Colonel Wyllys, who told me that I could not pass on ; 
that we were to defend a road that lead from Flatbush road to the 
Jamaica road. Col. Wyllys bearing a Continental, and I a State 


commission, he was considered a senior officer and I was obliged 
to submit; but I told him I was convinced the main body of the 
enemy would take the Jamaica road, that there was no probability 
of their coming along the road he was then guarding, and if he 
would not let me proceed to where the firing was, I would return 
and endeavor to get into the Jamaica road before Gen. Howe. 
To this he consented, and I immediately made a retrograde march, 
and after marching nearly two miles, the whole distance through 
woods, I arrived within sight .'of the Jamaica road, and to my 
great mortification I saw the main body of the enemy in full 
march between me and our lines, and the baggage guard just com- 
ing into the road. A thought struck me of attacking the baggage 
guard, and, if possible, to cut my way through them and proceed 
to Hell Gate to cross the Sound. I, however, ordered the men to 
remain quite still, (I had then but the first battalion with me, for 
the second being some distance in the rear, I directed Major 
Williams, who was on horseback, to return and order Lt. Col* 
Brodhead to push on by the left of the enemy and endeavor get 
into our lines that way, and happily they succeeded, but had to 
wade a mill dam by which a few were drowned,) and I took the ad- 
jutant with me and crept as near the road as I thought prudent, to try 
and ascertain the number of the baggage guard, and I saw a gren- 
adier stepping into the woods. I got a tree between him and me 
until he came near, and I took him prisoner and examined him. 
I found that there was a whole brigade with the baggage, com- 
manded by a general officer. 

1 immediately returned to the battalion and called a council of 
the officers and laid three propositions before them : ist, to attack 
the baggage guard and endeavor to cut our way through them and 
proceed to Hell Gate and so cross the Sound ; 2nd, to lay where 
we were until the whole had passed us and then proceed to Hell 
Gate ; or, 3//, to endeavor to force our way through the enemy'a 
flank guards into our line at Brooklyn. The first was thought a 
dangerous and useless attempt as the enemy was so superior in 
force. The 2nd I thought the most eligible, for it was evident that 
adopting either of the other propositions we must lose a number of 
men without affecting the enemy materially, as we had so small a 
force, not more than 230 men. This was, however, objected to, 
under the idea that we should be blamed for not fighting at all, 
and perhaps charged with cowardice, which would be worse than 


death itself. The 3d proposition was therefore adopted, and we 
immediately began our march, but had not proceeded more than 
half a mile until we fell in with a body of 7 or 800 light infantry, 
which we attacked without any hesitation, but their superiority of 
numbers encouraged them to march up with their bayonets, which 
we could not withstand, having none ourselves. I therefore 
ordered the Troops to push on towards our lines. I remained on 
the ground myself until they had all passed me, (the enemy were 
then within less than 20 yards of us,) and by this means I came into 
the rear instead of the front of my command. We had proceed- 
ed but a short distance before we were again engaged with a supe- 
rior body of the enemy, and here we lost a number of men, but 
took Major Moncrieffe, their commanding officer, prisoner, but 
he was a Scotch prize for Ensign Brodhead, who took him and 
had him in possession for some hours, was obliged to surrender 
himself. Finding that the enemy had possession of the ground 
between us and our lines, and that it was impossible to cut our 
way through as a body, I directed the men to make the best of 
their way as well as they could ; some few got in safe, but there 
were 159 taken prisoners. I was myself entirely cut off from our 
lines and therefore endeavored to conceal myself, with a few men 
who would not leave me. I hoped to remain until night, when I 
intended to try to get to Hell Gate and %ross the Sound ; but 
about 3 o'clock in the afternoon was discovered by a party of 
Hessians and obliged to surrender — thus ended the career of that 

[Pcnn. Archives, Second Scries, Vol. I.] 

[No. 21.] 

Camp near Kingsiikidgk, 5th Scp'r, 1776. 
Dear Sir, 

I doubt not the Hon'blc the Convention of the State of Tcnn'a, 
is anxious to know the state cf the Provincial Troops since the 
Battle on Long Island, and as I have now all the information to 


be expected concerning it for the present, will give them every 
circumstance that occurs to me. On the 26th of last month, 
Gen 'Is Putnam, Sullivan and others come to our camp which was 
to the left of all the other posts and proceeded to reconnoitre the 
enemie's lines to the right, when from the movements of the 
enemy they might plainly discover they were advancing towards 
Jamaica, and extending their lines to the left so as to march round 
us, for our lines to the left, were, for want of Videttes, left open 
for at least four miles where we constantly scouted by Day, which 
beside mounting a Guard of one hundred men & an advance 
party of subaltern and thirty to the left of us, was hard Duty for 
our Reg't: during the night of the 26th, we were alarmed three 
Different times and stood to our Arms. As soon as it was light, 
Col. Miles, from the right of our first Batt", sent me orders to 
follow him with the second, to the left of our lines ; when I had 
marched about half a mile, I was ordered to the right about to 
join Col. Willis's reg 1 of New England troops, but by the time I 
returned to the camp, Major Williams on horseback, overtook me 
with orders from Col. Miles, to march Obliquely & join him, but 
could not say where I might find him ; I Observed the orders and 
directed a Subaltern from the front of the Batt" (which was march- 
ing in Indian file) with a small party to the left of the Batt", and 
desired Major Patton to send a Subaltern & small party from the 
rear to the right of the front of the Battalion, which he mistook 
and took the one-half of the Batt" to the right, about two hundred 
yards, which immediately threw the half the Batt", so far to the 
rear as to render it very difficult to join without sustaining great 
loss, for presently after we left our camp we discovered the 
Enemie's horse & foot to the number of four or five Thousand in 
our front, and as we could discover nothing of the first Batt", the 
Enemy being vastly superior to us in Number, -I immediately 
ordered the Batt n to gain a Wood to the left and then formed, but 
seeing a Number of Artillerymen dragging a brass field-piece & 
Howit through a clear field in order to gain a wood a little to 
the left of our Front, and knowing the Enemy were also in our 
rear, I ordered that part of the Batt" which was then with me, to 
proceed to the second wood, & cover the Artillery and make a 
stand, but the New England Reg 1 aforementioned coming up with 
us, and running thro' our files broke them, and in the confusion 
many of our men run with them. I did all in my power to rally 


the musquetry & Riflemen, but to no purpose, so that when we 
came to engage the Enemy, I had not fifty men, notwithstanding 
which, we after about three Rounds, caused the Enemy to retire, 
and as the Enemy's main body was then nearly between us and 
the lines, I retreated to the lines, having lost out of the whole 
Battalion, about one hundred men, officers included, which, as 
they wer^e much scattered, must be chiefly prisoners ; during this 
time,, four or five Rcg'ts, among which were our musquetry & 
flying Camp, Delaware & Maryland Reg'ts, and some of our Rifle- 
men who had joined them, were engaged to the left of us and 
right of the Lines. I had no sooner got into the Lines than the 
Enemy advanced up to them and kept up a brisk fire on us, but 
only one man killed in the Lines ; as soon as we returned the fire 
with our rifles and musquetry, they retreated, and if we had been 
provided with a field piece or two, of which we had a sufficient 
number elsewhere, we might have killed the greater part of. their 
advance party ; as soon as the Enemy were beaten from the lines, 
I was ordered to a point about a mile and a-half to the right, to 
cover the retreat of the Delaware Battalion and the other Troops 
that might come over under the constant fire of the Enemie's field 
pieces and Howits ; here I remained 'till almost night before I 
was relieved, notwithstanding the Generals there had a number 
of Reg'ts who were not engaged, and had had little or no fatigue. 
Upon the whole, less Generalship never was shown in any Army 
since the Art of War was'understood, except in the retreat from I 
Long Island, which was well conducted. No troops could be- / 
have better than the Southern, for though they seldom .engaged / 
less than five to one, they frequently repulsed the Enemy with j / 

great Slaughter, and I am confident that the number of killed and* 
wounded on their side, is greater than on ours, notwithstanding we) 
had to fight th*m front & rear under every disadvantage. I un- 1 
derstand that Gen. Sullivan has taken the Liberty to charge our 
brave and good Col. Miles, with the ill success of the Day, but 
give me leave to say, that if Gen. Sullivan & the rest of the Gen 'Is 
on Long Island, had been as Vigilant & prudent as him, we might, 
& in all probability would have cut off Clinton's Brigade; our 
officers & men in general, considering the confusion, behaved as 
well as men could do — a very few behaved ill, of which, when I 
am informed, will write you. . . . Col. Miles & Col. Piper 
are prisoners, and I hear are well treated, poor Atly I can hear 


nothing of. Col. Parry died like a Hero. No allowance has as 
yet been made for the Lieutenant Coil's and Majors Table Ex- 
penses, in care of separate commands. I hope we shall be put 
upon as respectable a footing on that acc't as the Maryland officers 
are, our present pay being not more than half sufficient to support 
us according to our Rank in this Tory Country. 

I am Dear Sir, in great Haste, your most H'ble Serv't 

Daniel Brodhead. 

P. S. The Great Gen'l Putnam could not, tho" requested, send 
out one Reg't to cover our retreat. 

[Penn. Archives, First Series, Vol. V.] 

[No. 22.] 



[Long Island, Feb. 26 (?) 1776.] ' 
My Dear, 

Our Regiment is now stationed on Long Island at and about 
the ferry. We shall soon begin a fortification on this side 
that will command the East River and the town. The troops 
in the City are fortifying in one of the Streets that will command 
the old fort, if the Enemy should get possession of it, (and are put- 
ting down the rear of the fort.) We have begun another Fort 
near " Hell Gate." The men of war have dropped down below 
the town and are very quiet, but supplied from the City by orders 
of this Congress. Our troops are very hearty and fare well as 
times will admit, most of the valuable articles are moved out of 
the City, and one third of the inhabitants. What are left behind 
look serious, as it is now a serious point with them. The destruc- 

1 At (he time of writing this letter, Col. Douglas was Major of Ward's 
regiment v/hich enlisted for six weeks' service under Lee, and which was 
stationed by him on Long Island. The fortification they were soon to be- 
gin was Fort Stirling. 


tion of such a City as this would be a great loss, & I hope it will 
be prevented. It will be in vain for us to expect to keep the 
shipping out of the North River, unless we can fortify at the Nar- 
rows, where I intend to view as soon as the weather is good. The 
Fenoex now lays there in order to guard that place, but will not 
fire on us. 

New York, July 20"', 1776. 

You have likely heard before this that two ships passed this 
City yesterday week, through a warm fire from our batteries, our 
Gunners being in too much haste (I make no doubt,) was the 
occasion of our not doing them much damage ! and us the loss of 
4 men in loading our Cannon. The Enemy did us no harm by 
their own shot and shells, which was warmly applied, — as soon as 
the fire had got pretty warm I receivd orders to march my Reg 1 
to the grand parade which brought us into Broadway, that leads 
along the North River, and as we were on our march in Broadway 
the tyrants did not fail to pelt at that part of the town smartly, 
but luckily for us the houses fended off the shot very well, &c. 
. . . My Reg* is now quartered in Broad Street. 

N. Yorij the 27 th July, 1776. 

No new arrivals of the enemy. The ships that went up the 
River I believe would now be glad they were safe back to their 
old station (by their motion). I had the Honor to dine with his 
Excellency Genl. Washington day before yesterday at which time 
he had nothing new from any quarter. . . . 

New York Aug. 10, 1776. 

The enemy have a very formidable Army (some say more) but 
I suppose equal in number to ours, and from the best intelligence 
it is expected they will give us Battle soon, at which time I hope 
God in his infinite mercy will be on our side, and we shall have 
no occasion to dread their numbers, or experience. Our cause 
being so just, I cannot but hope for success. Our lines arc very 
extensive. The Enemy arc very compact, and together; at what 
place they will bend their fury is unknown, but is expected to be 
at this City, and Long Island. There sailed night before last, 


three Frigates and thirty transports from the Hook, supposed t.» 
be gone round the east end of Long Island, and are to come 
through the Sound, and land on the main to the Eastward of us, 
whilst the Shipping goes up the north river, and lands above us 
and endeavor to meet. If this be their plan I think we must most 
surely work them ! I suppose they may possibly fire the town, as 
the buildings are many of them wood & very dry. But I do not 
believe they will fire the town until they grow dubious about 
the victory, and that will only serve to encourage us, and when 
the town is burned it will be much easier to defend ourselves than 
at present. If the " Hessian" troops are so lucky as to fall into 
our hands I am in hopes they will meet with such treatment as 
properly belongs to their Bloody crimes ! For we have had no 
dispute with them but [they] have turned themselves out as mur- 
derers of the innocent. 

N. York, 13 th of Aug" 1776. 
There was 43 large Ships came in yesterday — 31 Ships, 10 Brigs 
& one Scow. I am now going to sound the channel to see if it 
will not do to sink some vessels against the fort. . . . 

New York, Aug" 23, 1776. 
. . . . The Enemy landed yesterday on Long Island, at 
Gravcscnd, about nine miles from our lines ; our flying parties 
are annoying them all the while. We have reinforced our side 
and I hope will be able to make a good stand. We expect the 
fleet up every tide, if the wind serves. Our fire ships in the North 
River have behaved manfully, have burnt one of their tenders. 
The rest of the enemy left the river the first opportunity after- 
wards. Our Connecticut Militia have come in bravely ; twelve 
Jicgts were on the grand parade yesterday at one time ! Almost 
one half of the grand army now consists of Connecticut Troops I 

New York, Saturday, Aug" 24, 1776. 

. . . . Our men had yesterday two small brushes with the 

enemy on Long Island, and repulsed them both times. As yet 

tilings look well on our side ; a few days will now determine as 

the work is begun. Our troops are really in high spirits, and it 


is a general voice, let them come on as they can or dare ! There 
has been a heavy clashing of Arms on Long Island this morning, 
but have not yet heard the Consequence. . . . 

N. York, Aug" 26^ 1776. 
•I am very well although many in the Reg 1 arc sick. We have 
not had any general action yet. ' The two Armies are intrenched 
on Long Island very near each other and very often exchange a 
few shots. We have had no considerable loss as yet. Col. Mar- 
tin of the Jersey's is supposed to be mortally wounded. Both the 
lines are constantly reinforcing, and by all appearances a general 
action can't be far off ; we have got the advantage of the hills 
& woods, they of the plains. We shall not approach their lines, 
and if they do ours, it must cost them dear. The wind and tide 
served this morning, but they have not dared to give us battle in 
the City yet. The Lieut. Col. of the first battalion of York troops 
is now before a court marshall for treacherous behavior, and by 
the best accounts he will undoubtedly lose his life. I hope God 
in his providence will guard us from falling by our open enemy, 

and from all traitcrous wretches It is expected that 

they mean to give battle at two places at one and the same time, 
that is Long Island, and this City. % 

N. York, Aug" 31, 1776. 
I take this as the first opportunity to acquaint you that on 
Tuesday last we got a severe flogging on Long Island. The 
enemy surrounded a large detachment of our army, took many, 
killed some, and the rest got off. Major Genl. Sullivan & Brig r 
Genl. Lord Sterling, Col. Clark and several other field officers 
are prisoners. Col. Johnson was killed. By the best act's we 
killed more of them than they did of us. But they took the most 
prisoners. We took twenty one, which I am a witness to, as they 
came through my Reg 1 as I was in the woods for a covering 
party, and to prevent the enemy from flanking our right wing. 
We were prevented from getting even one shot at them by a large 
creek which we could not cross. I remained at the most extreme 
part of the right wing of our Army in a thick wood to prevent their 
crossing a creek, where our sentry's could hail and often fire at 
each other, until night before last when I received orders to call 

•■■■-- ' 


in my guard all, and march immediately with the utmost silence, 
which was soon done, and the whole army retreated into this city, 
without the loss of any lives, except 4 or 5, which were late yester- 
day morning and were shot in a boat, as they were coming off. 
We have also evacuated Governor's Island where we have lost 
some Cannon. What is to be our next manouver I can't tell but I 
hope it is to make a good stand somewhere. I am well convinced 
that for us to try to defend Long Island, New York, and the 
jersey's against their land forces & shipping will require three 
art/tics as large as theirs, as they have the water carriage to place 
their men when & where they please. Many people I suppose 
will wonder at our leaving Long Island. But I would have them 
suspend their judgment for a while, as they know not our situa- 
tion or the etumics ! The shipping lay now close by the city, and 
can in half an hour be abreast of it with the tide. I expect we 
[shall] soon have a cannonade from our own battery on Long 
Island, (Fort Sterling) which I have the mortification to think I 
helped build myself, in cold tedious weather ! They fired smartly 
from it yesterday at our boats passing from Governor's Island. . . . 

Country Skat near Turtle Bay, 
Sept' j* 1776. 

Our Army is now in three grand Divisions. One at the City, 
which is our right wing, commanded by Gen 1 . Putnam, one at and 
above Kings Bridge, commanded by Genl Heath, and one at and 
about Harlem, commanded by Genl Spencer, which is the Divi- 
sion that I belong to, and is called the Center Division. I have 
three Reg ts of militia in my Brigade and they give me much fatigue 
& trouble. Col's. Cook, Pettibone, & Talcott are the commanders. 
We are encouraged by 1500 Troops which have come in from 
Maryland. I am sorry to say it but it is a truth, I do not believe 
that we have got in all our Army as many men as the enemy. I 
have heard that it has been said in the country that we should 
not have left Long Island, but salied out and drove the enemy 
off. We never were more than one to three, on the Island, neither 
was it so prudent to abandon other posts for that, as the shipping 
could & have since come up the East River and then our com- 
munication was gone, and the Army with it. We are now so as 
one part can get to the other, without water carriage, & think if 
wc will only stand by each other, and not run home like cowards, 


with God's blessing, we may keep them off, which is a victory of 
itself! I have taken unwearied pains with the Militia, and I am 
afraid it is too much fatigue for me, as my cough is a little in- 
creased. But I hope it is only for a short time. . . . My ex- 
penses has been so large that my money falls a little short. I was 
obliged to entirely support the sick of my Reg 1 for some time, but 
I suppose you have none to spare. I shall make out, but not so 
well as I could wish. . . . 

In the fiklp at the lines on Harlam Hejchts, 

i8"> Sept 1776. 

Since I wrote last we have had different scenes to go through. 
I lay with my brigade a little below Turtle Bay where we hove up 
lines for more than one mile in length. Gen'l Wadsworth man- 
aged the lines on the right and I on the left. We lay in the lines 
Friday and Saturday nights. Sunday morning at break of day, 
five ships weighed anchor and fell in close within a musket shot 
of our lines quite to the left of me. I then moved my brigade 
abreast of them. They lay very quiet until 10 o'clock and by 
that time they had about 80 of their boats from under Long 
Island shore full with men which contained about five or six 
thousand and four transports full ready to come in the second 
boats. They very suddenly began as heavy a canonade perhaps 
as ever was from no more ships, as they had nothing to molest 
them, but to fire on us at their pleasure, from their tops and every- 
where — their boats got under cover of the smoke of the shipping 
and then struck to the left of my lines in order to cut me of from 
a retreat. My left wing gave way which was formed of the militia. 
I lay myself on the right wing waiting for the boats until Capt 
Prentice came to me and told me, if I meant to save myself to 
leave the lines for that was the orders on the left and that they 
had left the lines. I then told my men to make the best of their 
way as I found I had but about ten left with me. They soon 
moved out and I then made the best of my way out. We then 
had a mile to retreat through as hot a fire as could well be made 
but they mostly overshot us. The brigade was then in such a 
scattered poster that I could not collect them and I found the 
whole army on a retreat. The regulars came up in the rear and 
gave me several platoons at a time when I had none of my men 
with me and I was so beat out that they would have had me a 


prisoner had not I found an officer that was obliged to leave his 
horse because he could not get him over a fence so as to get out 
of their way. I found myself gone if I could not ride. I went 
over the fence and got the horse over whilst they were firing, 
mounted him and rode off. We halted here at night and on Mon- 
day the enemy came on and we gave them a good drubbing. I 
have not time to give you the particulars of any part of our action. 
I have lost my major, a prisoner, — One sargeant or more killed 
and four wounded, — have missing out of my brigade which sus- 
tained the whole fire but 8 or 9 as yet. I hope God will be on / 
our side at last. It is memoriable that I have lost no more and / 
God be praised for it. Our lines are now good and if they dare 
come on without their shipping I hope we shall give them a drub- / 
bing. In the utmost h.xste 

From your faithful husband 

Wm. Douglas. 

I this moment received yours of the 8 th inst, but have not got 
my horse yet. he is left on the road. My love to the children. 

W.hite Plains 31'* Oct', 1776. 

On Monday the enemy advanced to attack us at this place. 
I was ordered out with my regiment with three others to meet and 
endeavor to retard their march. We moved on and at about 
twelve were attacked by their advanced guard. We drove them 
back but soon after the main body came on and we stood thera 
until they got on our flank and I ordered a retreat. We had a 
most severe fire to retreat under, ten men to our one, but we came 
off in good order and very surely fired on our retreat all the way. 
I lost three dead and five wounded. They cut my regiment off 
from our main body and got ahead of me but I took advantage of 
a wood and got clear of them. My regiment has the honour of 
behaving most nobly. They are now near neighbors, our lines 
are about half a mile. 

[Originals in possession of Benj. Douglas, Esq., Middlctown, Conn.] 


[No. 23. | 

Jamaica, August 27 th , 1776. 

Gentlemen — I am now at Jamaica with less than 100 men, 
having brought all the cattle from the westward and southward of 
the hills, and have sent them off with the troops of horse, with 
orders to take all the rest eastward of this place, to the eastward 
of Hempstead Plains, to put them into fields and to set a guard 
over them. 

The enemy, I am informed, are entrenching southward, and 
from the heights near Howard's. 

I have now received yours, with several resolutions, which I 
wish it was in my power to put in execution ; but unless Cols. 
Smith and Remsen, mentioned in yours, join me with their regi- 
ments, or some other assistance immediately, 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 Remsen, I think, cannot join me. Unless 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. 

I am, gentlemen, your most humble serv't. 

Nathaniel Woodhull. 

Westward of Queens County, August 27^, 1776. 
Inclosed I send you a letter from Col. Potter, who left me yes- 
terday at 11 o'clock, after bringing about 100 men to me at 
Jamaica. Major Smith, I expect has all the rest that were to come 
from Suffolk county. There have about 40 of the militia joined 
me from the regiments in Queens county, and about 50 of the 
troop 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, to the eastward of the cross-road between the two 
counties, and have placed guards and sentinels from the north 



road to the south side of the Island, in order to prevent the cattle's 
going back, and to prevent the communication of the tories with 
the enemy. I am within about six miles of the enemy's camp : 
their light horse have been within about two miles, and unless I 
have more men, our stay here will answer no purpose. We shall 
soon want to be supplied with provisions, if we tarry here. 

/- Jamaica, August 28 th , 1776. 

I must again let you know my situation. I have about 70 men 
and about 20 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 Remsen, they cannot join me, for the 
communication is cut off between us. I have sent about 1100 
cattle to the great fields on the plains, yesterday. About 300 
more have gone off this morning to the same place, and I have 
ordered a guard of an officer and seven privates. They can get 
no water in those fields. My men and horses are worn out with 
fatigue. The cattle are not all gone off towards Hempstead. I 
ordered them off yesterday ; but they were not able to take them 
along. I yesterday brought about 300 from Newtown. I think 
the cattle are in as much danger on the north side as on the south 
side ; and have ordered the inhabitants to remove them, if you 
cannot send me an immediate reinforcement. 

[Journals of the New York Provincial Congress.] 


[No. 24.] 



Long-Island, Aug. 28 th , 1776. 
Sir — I was just now honored with your favor of this date, with 
General Woodhull's letter, and should esteem myself happy, were 
it in my power to afford the assistance required, but the enemy 
having landed a considerable part of their force, here, and at the 
same time may have reserved some to attack New-York, it is the 


opinion, not only of myself, but of all my general officers 1 have 
had an opportunity of consulting with, that the men we have are 
not more than competent to the defence of those lines, and the 
several posts which must be defended. This reason, and this 
alone, prevents my complying with your request. I shall beg 
leave to mention, in confidence, that a few days ago, upon the 
enemy's first landing here, I wrote to Governor Trumbull, recom- 
mending him to throw over a body of iooo men on the Island to 
annoy the enemy in their rear, if the state of the colony would 
admit of it. Whether it will be done I cannot determine. That 
colony having furnished a large proportion of men, I was, and 
still am, doubtful whether it could be done. If it could, I am sat- 
isfied it will, from the zeal and readiness they have ever shown to 
give every possible succour. I am hopeful they will be in a condi- 
tion to do it ; and if they are, those troops, I doubt not, will bt 
ready and willing to give General Woodhull any assistance he 
may want. But cannot the militia effect what he wishes to do ? 
They, I believe, must be depended on in the present instance for 

I have the honor to be, in great haste, 

Sir, your most obedient servant, 

George Washington. 
[Journals of the New York Provincial Congress.] 

[No. 25.] 


N. York. Aug. is" 1 , 1776. 
Dear Sir, . . . Great Changes' and Alterations have lately 
been made ; it gives me much Uneasiness that your Regiment is 
not going with mine ; can't learn what kind of a Place it is we 

1 Col. Hitclicock liad been ordered to Hurdctt's Ferry, opposite Fort 
Washington, on the Jersey side, but returned to Long Island on the land- 
ing of the enemy. 


are ordered to take, but I sat out with a Determination to go any- 
where & do anything, that I was ordered to do — were you going 
up there with your Regiment, with me, I should not wish to be 
better off. hope however we shall be able to defend Ourselves 
against Rattle Snakes without you, which I am told are very 
Plenty there ; The General thinks however they [the enemy] will 
attempt to take & occupy the River on both Sides there & conse- 
quently has ordered two more of the established Regiments there ; 
if they come (& come they certainly will in a few Days) I will de- 
fend the Place as long as I can ; they have certainly been embark- 
ing for a Day or two ; I am yet fully of the Belief they will Land 
on Long Island for One of their Places & where else I don't 
know, but I'm fully persuaded, in more Places than One, I wish 
you & your Regiment all Happiness. I know you will all play 
the man — the critical Hour of America is come ; beat 'em once, 
they are gone — 

Compliments Mr. Coleman. 

Dear Sir Adieu 

Dan Hitchcock. 

The Wrench I rec d in my Back by the Starting of my Horse 
at my Gun just as I was mounting him, was so great that I 
scarcely got off from my Bed next Day, but feel much better of 
it now ; I hear the Regulars have built a Fort on the Hill east of 
Fort Putnam ; I am astonished that our People are not building 
two Forts where you & I have always contended for Forts to [be] 
built For Heaven's Sake apply to the Generals yourself & urge 
the Necessity of it ; let two Forts be built there, & another just 
such abbatee as is built between Forts Greene & Putnam, from 
Water to Water ; it can be done in a Day — cut every apple tree 
down — if our People are in Spirits ; between us, 1 think our Sal- 
vation depends upon it for their Bombs will drive us out of Fort 
Putnam, & if they attempt to force & should get thro', we have 
'cm between two Fires. 

[Originals in possession of Chas. J. Little, Esq., Cambridge, Mass.] 


[No. 26.] 


The movements of the enemy indicating an intention to approach 
New York by. the way of Long Island, Gen. Washington ordered 
about 10,000 men to embark and cross the East River at Brook- 
lyn. The regiment to which I belonged was among the first that 
crossed over, and, on the 27 11 ' of August, the whole British army, 
consisting of their own native troops, Hessians, Brunswickers, 
Waldeckers, etc, to the number of at least 25,000 men, with a 
most formidable train of field artillery, landed near Flatbush, 
under cover of their shipping, and moved towards Jamaica and 
Brooklyn. As our troops had advanced to meet the enemy, the 
action soon commenced, and was continued, at intervals, through 
most of the day. Before such an overwhelming force of disci- 
plined troops, our small band could not maintain their ground 
and the main body retired within their lines at Brooklyn, while a 
body of Long Island Militia, under Gen. Woodhull, took their 
stand at Jamaica. Here Gen. Woodhull was taken prisoner and 
inhumanly killed. The main body of our army, under Major-Gen. 
Sullivan and Lord Stirling, fought in detached bodies, and on the 
retreat both of those officers were made prisoners. I also lost a 
brother the same day, who fell into their hands, and was after- 
wards literally starved to death in one of their prisons ; nor would 
the enemy suffer relief from his friends to be afforded to him. 

This was the first time in my life that I had witnessed the awful 
scene of a battle, when man was engaged to destroy his fellow man. 
I well remember my sensations on the occasion, for they were 
solemn beyond description, and very hardly could I bring my 
mind to be willing to attempt the life of a fellow-creature. Our 
army having retired beyond their intrenchment, which extended 
from Vanbrunt's Mills, on the West, to the East River, flanked 
occasionally by redoubts, the British army took their position, in 
full array, directly in front of our position. Our intrenchment was 
so weak, that it is most wonderful the British General did not 
attempt to storm it soon after the battle, in which his troops had 
been victorious. Gen. Washington was so fully aware of the peril- 



ous situation of this division of his army, that he immediately con- 
vened a council of war, at which the propriety of retiring to New 
York was decided on. After sustaining incessant fatigue and 
constant watchfulness for two days and nights, attended by heavy 
rain, exposed every moment to an attack from a vastly superior 
force in front, and to be cut off from the possibility of retreat to 
New York, by the fleet, which might enter the East River, on the 
night of the 29th of August, Gen. Washington commenced recross- 
ing his troops from Brooklyn to New York. To move so large a 
body of troops, with all their necessary appendages, acioss a river 
full a mile wide, with a rapid current, in face of a victorious, well 
disciplined army, nearly three times as numerous as his own, and 
a fleet capable of stopping the navigation, so that not one boat 
could have passed over, seemed to present most formidable 
obstacles. But, in the face of these difficulties, the Commander- 
in-Chief so arranged his business, that on the evening of the 29 th , 
by 10 o'clock, the troops began to retire from the lines in such a 
manner that no chasm was made in the lines, but as one regiment 
left their station on guard, the remaining troops moved to the 
right and left and filled up the vacancies, while Gen. Washington 
took his station at the ferry, and superintended the embarkation 
of the troops. It was one of the most anxious, busy nights that I 
ever recollect, and being the third in which hardly any of us had 
closed our eyes to sleep, we were all greatly fatigued. As the 
dawn of the next day approached, those of us who remained in 
the trenches became very anxious for our own safety, and when 
the dawn appeared there were several regiments still on duty. At 
this time a very dense fog began to rise, and it seemed to settle in 
a peculiar manner over both encampments. I recollect this pecu- 
liar providential occurrence perfectly well ; and so very dense was 
the atmosphere that I could scarcely discern a man at six yards' 

When the sun rose we had just received orders to leave the lines, 
hut before we reached the ferry, the Commander-in-Chief sent 
one of his Aids to order the regiment to repair again to their 
former station on the lines. Col. Chester immediately faced to 
the right about and returned, where we tarried until the sun had 
risen, but the fog remained as dense as ever. Finally, the second 
order arrived for the regiment to retire, and we very joyfully bid 
those trenches a long adieu. When we reached Brooklyn ferry» 

I l 


the boats had not returned from their last trip, but they very soon 
appeared and took the whole regiment over to New York ; and 
I think I saw Gen. Washington on the ferry stairs when I stepped 
into one of the last boats that received the troops. I left my horse 
tied to a post at the ferry. 

The troops having now all safely reached New York, and the 
fog continuing as thick as ever, I began to think cf my favorite 
horse, and requested leave to return and bring him off. Having 
obtained permission, I called for a crew of volunteers to go with 
me, and guiding the boat myself, I obtained my horse and got off 
some distance into the river before the enemy appeared in 

As soon as they reached the ferry, we were saluted merrily from 
their musketry, and finally by their field pieces; but we returned 
in safety. In the history of warfare, I do not recollect a more 
fortunate retreat. After all, the providential appearance of the 
fog saved a part of our army from being captured, and certainly 
myself among others who formed the rear guard. Gen. Washing- 
ton has never received the credit which was due to him for this 
wise and most fortunate measure. . . . 

As the enemy showed a disposition to cross over into West- 
chester, Gen. Washington removed the main body of his army up 
to the White Plains, taking possession of the high ground North 
and East of the town. Here he seemed determined to take his 
stand, his lines extending from a mountain on the right, called 
Chadderton's Hill, to a lake or large pond of water on his left. 
An intrenchment was thrown up from right to left, behind which 
our army formed. Long poles with iron pikes upon them, supplied 
the want of bayonets. Chadderton's Hill was separated from the 
right of our intrenchment by a valley of some extent, with the 
river Bronx directly before it ; but being within cannon shot of 
our intrenchment on the right, Gen. Washington thought it best 
to occupy it, and ordered Gen. McDougall, with 800 or 1000 
men, to defend it, and if driven from it, to retire upon the right 
of the line. The American army were all at their several posts 
on the last September and beginning of October; and here it 
looked as if Gen. Washington intended to give battle to the Brit- 
ish army. On the 27 th October, 1776, itwas announced at Head 
Quarters that the enemy was in motion from Westchester, through 
Kastchester, directly toward the White Plains. A detachment of 


2000, or 3000 men was ordered to proceed on the Old York road 
to meet the enemy in front. As our brigade formed a part of the 
force, I, of course, was among them. Before the dawn of day, on 
the 28 th of October, we learned that the enemy were in full march 
directly in front of us. Gen. Spencer, who commanded this body 
of troops in advance, immediately made the necessary disposition 
to receive the enemy, having the river Bronx on our right, and 
between us and the troops on Chadderton's Hill. At the dawn of 
day, the Hessian column advanced within musket shot of our 
troops, when a full discharge of musketry warned them of their 
danger. At first they fell back, but rallyed again immediately, 
and the column of British troops having advanced upon our left, 
made it necessary to retire. As stone walls were frequent, our 
troops occasionally formed behind them, and poured a destructive 
fire into the Hessian ranks. 

It, however, became necessary to retreat wholly before such 
an overwhelming force. To gain Chadderton's Hill, it became 
necessary to cross the Bronx, which was fordable at that place. 
The troops immediately entered the river and ascended the Hill, 
while I being in the rear, and mounted on horseback, endeavored 
to hasten the last of our troops, the Hessians then being within 
musket shot. When I reached the bank of the river, and was 
about to enter it, our chaplain, the Rev. Dr. Trumbull, sprang 
up behind me on my horse, and came with such force as to carry 
me with my accoutrements, together with himself, headlong into 
the river. This so entirely disconcerted me, that by the time I 
reached the opposite bank of the river, the Hessian troops were 
about to enter it, and considered me as their prisoner. As we 
ascended the hill, I filed off to the right, expecting our troops on 
the hill would soon give them a volley. When they had advanced 
within a few yards of a stone wall, behind which Gen. McDougall 
had placed them, our troops poured upon the Hessian column, 
under Gen. Rahl, such a destructive fire, that they retreated down 
the hill in disorder, leaving a considerable number of the corps on 
the field. This relieved me from my perilous situation, and I im- 
mediately remounted my horse, and taking my course in the valley, 
directly between the hostile armies, I rode to Head Quarters, 
near the Court-house, and informed Gen. Washington of the 
situation of the troops on Chadderton's Hill. The enemy having 
rallied, and being reinforced, made a second attempt upon Gen. 


McDongall's detachment/ who gave them a second warm recep- 
tion; but, being overpowered, retired upon the right of our line, 
then in order of battle. I A severe cannonade was kept up from 
both armies through the\ day, and every moment did wc expect 
the enemy would have attempted to force us from our lines. In 
the mean time, Gen. WashWton had begun to remove his stores 
and heavy baggage up to l\orthcastle. After remaining in our 
lines and on constant military duty for several days and nights, 
on the i rt of November Gen. vXashington retired with his army 
to the heights in the neighborhood^ Northcastle. 

[Memoir of Col. Benjamin Tallmadge. Prepared by himself. New York. 


[No. 27.] 


. . . . One evening while lying here (Turtle Bay) we heard 
a heavy cannonade at the city ; and before dark saw four of the 
enemy's ships that had passed the town and were coming up the 
East River; they anchored just below us. These ships were the 
Phoenix, of 44 guns ; the Roebuck of 44 ; the Rose of 32 ; and 
another the name of which I have forgotten. Half of our regi- 
ment was sent off under the command of our Major, to man some- 
thing that were called " lines," although they were nothing more 
than a ditch dug along on the bank of the river, with the dirt 
thrown out towards the water. They staid in these lines during 
the night, and returned to the camp in the morning unmolested. 
The other half of the regiment went the next night, under the 
command of the Lieut.-Colonel, upon the like errand. We arrived 
at the lines about dark, and were ordered to leave our packs in a 
copse wood, under a guard, and go into the lines without them ; 
what was the cause of this piece of wise policy I never knew ; but 
I knew the effects of it, which was, that I never saw my knapsack 
from that day to this ; nor did any of the rest of our party, unless 
they came across them by accident in our retreat. We " manned 




the lines" and lay quite unmolested during the whole night. We 
had a chain of sentinels quite up the river for four or five miles 
in length. At an interval of every half hour, they passed the 
watch-word to each other — " All is well."' I heard the British on 
board their shipping answer, " We will alter your tune before 
tomorrow night" — and they were as good as their word for once. 
It was quite a dark night, and at daybreak, the first thing that 
saluted our eyes, was all the four ships at anchor, with springs 
upon their cables, and within musket shot of us. The Phoenix, 
lying a little quartering, and her stern toward me, I could read 
her name as distinctly as though I had been directly under the 
stern — . As soon as it was fairly light, we saw their boats coming 
out of a creek or cove, on the Long Island side of the water, filled 
with British soldiers. When they came to the edge of the tide, 
they formed their boats in line. They continued to augment 
these forces from the Island until they appeared like a large clover 

field in full bloom We lay very quiet in our ditch, 

waiting their motions, till the sun was an hour or two high. We 
heard a cannonade at the city, but our attention was drawn to our 
own guests. But they being a little dilatory in their operations, I 
stepped into an old warehouse which stood close by me, with the 
door open, inviting me in, and sat down upon a stool; the floor 
was strewed with papers which had in some former period been 
used in the concerns of the house, but were then lying in woful 
confusion. I was very demurely perusing these papers, when, all 
of a sudden, there came such a peal of thunder from the British 
shipping, that I thought my head would go with the sound. I 
made a frog's leap for the ditch, and lay as still as I possibly 
could, and began to consider which part of my carcass was to go 
first. The British played their parts well ; indeed, they had noth- 
ing to hinder them. We kept the lines till they were almost 
levelled upon us, when our officers seeing we could make no re- 
sistance, and no orders coming from any superior officer, and that 
we must soon be entirely exposed to the rake of the gun?, gave 
the order to leave the lines. In retreating we had to cross a level 
clear spot of ground, forty or fifty rods wide, exposed to the whole 
of the enemy's fire : and they gave it to us in prime order ; the 
grape shot and langrage flew merrily, which served to quicken 
our motions. . . . We had not gone far (in the highway) be- 
fore wc saw a party of men, apparently hurrying on in the same 


direction with ourselves ; we endeavored hard to overtake them, 
but on approaching them we found that they were not of our 
way of thinking; they were Hessians. We immediatel yaltered 
our course and took the main road leading to King's bridge. We 
had not long been on this road before we saw another party, just 
ahead of us, whom we knew to be Americans; just as we over- 
took these, they were fired upon by a party of British from a corn- 
field, and all was immediately in confusion again. > I believe the 
enemies' party was small ; but our people were all militia, and the 
demons of fear and disorder seemed to take full possession of all 
and everything on that day. When I came to the spot where the 
militia were fired upon the ground was literally covered with 
arms, knapsacks, staves, coats, .hats and old oil flasks, perhaps 

some of those from the Madeira town cellar in New York 

Several of the regiment were missing among whom was our major ; 
he was a fine man, and his loss was much regretted by the men 
of the regiment. We lay that night upon the ground which the 
regiment occupied when I came up with it. The next day in the 
forenoon, the enemy, as we expected, followed us " hard up" and 
were advancing through a level field ; our rangers and some few 
other light troops under the command of Col. Knowlton, of Con- 
necticut and Major Leitch of (I, believe) Virginia, were in waiting 
for them. Seeing them advancing, the dangers, &c, concealed 
themselves in a deep gully overgrown with bushes ; upon the west- 
ern verge of this defile was a post and rail fence, and over that 
the forementioned field. Our people let the enemy advance until 
they arrived at the fence when they arose and poured in a volley 
upon them. How many of the enemy were killed & wounded 
could not be known, as the British were always as careful as In- 
dians to conceal their losses. There were, doubtless, some killed, 
as I myself counted nineteen ball-holes through a single rail of 
the fence at which the enemy were standing when the action 
began. The British gave back and our people advanced into the 
field. The action soon became warm. Col. Knowlton a brave 
man and commander of the detachment, fell in the early part of 
the engagement. It was said, by them who saw it, that he lost his 
valuable life by unadvisedly exposing himself singly to the enemy. 
In my boyhood I had been acquainted with him ; he was a brave 
man and an excellent citizen. Major Leitch fell soon after, and 
the troops who were then engaged, were left with no higher com- 


mandcrs than their captains, but they still kept the enemy retreat- 
ing. Our regiment was now ordered into the field, and we arrived 
on the ground just as the retreating army were entering a thick 
wood, a circumstance as disagreeable to them as it was agreeable 
to us, at that period of the war. We soon came to action with 
them. The troops engaged being reinforced by our regiment kept 
them still retreating, until they found shelter under the cannon of 
some of their shipping, lying in the North River. We remained 
on the battle ground till nearly sunset, expecting the enemy to 
attack us again, but they showed no such inclination that day. 
The men were very much fatigued and faint, having had nothing 
to eat for forty-eight hours — at least the greater part were in this 
condition & I among the rest. . . . We had eight or ten of 
our reg' killed in the action & a number wounded, but none of 
them belonging to our company. Our Lt. Col. was hit by a 
grape-shot, which went through his coat, westcoat and shirt, to the 
skin on his shoulder, without doing any other damage than cutting 
up his epaulette. 

\A Narrative of Some of the Adventures, Dangers and Sufferings of a Revolu- 
tionary Soldier, etc. Hallowcll, Me. 1830.] 

[No. 28.] 

Camp Near King's Bridge, Sept, 20, 1776. 
You have most likely heard of our retreat from the city, before 
this, but I will give you some of the particulars. Sunday morn- 
ing last, our regiment, with a number of other regiments, were 
ordered to the lines a little below Turtle Bay, where lay five or six 
ships within musket shot of our lines. About six o'clock a most 
furious cannonade began from the ships. At the same time the 
enemy landed a large body of men a little above where our men 
were posted, and marched directly for the main road in order to 
cut off our retreat, which they had like to have effected, as the 
1 Of Col. Samuel Seldcn's Conn. Regiment. 


greatest part of our army were from six to fourteen miles distant 
from the city. In this skirmish we lost some men though I think 
not many. I have been unwell about a fortnight, with a slow 
fever and the camp disorder, which prevented my being in the 
skirmish. I had not passed the enemy but a little while before 
the enemy came up ; and if I had been with the regiment at the 
lines, I was so weak and feeble, I should without doubt have 
fallen into their hands. I have now left the regiment for a few 
days, and am with brother Chester, about sixteen miles from the 
city, getting better. . . . 

[ [Huntington Family Memoir, p. 164.] 

[No. 29.] 


Head Quarters N. York y* Sep* 1776, 
Hond Sir 

I have attempted to write to you several titties since our Return 
from Long Island, but have been as often interrupted by the vast 
hurry of Business in which the General is engaged. He is obliged 
to see into, and in a Manner fill every Department, which is too 
much for one Man — Our Retreat [from Long Island] before an 
Enemy much superior in Numbers, over a wide River, and not 
very well furnished with Boats certainly does Credit to our 
Generals. The thing was conducted with so much Secrecy that 
neither subalterns or privates knew that the whole Army was to 
cross back again to N. York, they thought only a few Regiments 
were to go back. General Howe has not yet landed upon this 
Island, but I imagine something of that kind is in Agitation, as 
the Fleet drew nearer and nearer, they are now about long Can- 
non Shot from the Battery, but no firing on either side. We shall 
be prepared to meet them here or retreat over Kings Bridge as 
we shall find Occasion, our supernumerary and heavy stores are 
removed, we must leave our heavy Cannon behind us in Case of 
1 Aide-dc-Camp to General Washington. 


- — 


Retreat, but I dont know that that will be any loss, as we never 
used them to much advantage. . . . 

I am most dutifully & Affect r Yrs. 

Tench Tilchman. 

Head Quarters, Harlem Heights, Monday, 16 Sep'. 1776. 

Our Army totally evacuated New York yesterday, the Enemy 
landed a party of about 3000 from Appearance four miles above 
the City where they encamped last Night. They kept up a very 
heavy fire from their Ships while their Men were landing, altho' 
no Body opposed them, I imagine they did it, thinking we might 
have some men concealed behind some lines on the Water side. 
We removed everything that was valuable, some heavy cannon 
excepted, before we left the Town. Our army is posted as advan- 
tageously as possible for Security, out of reach of the Fire of the 
Ships from either River; and upon high Grounds of difficult 
Access. I dont know whether the New Eng d Troops will stand 
there, but I am sure they will not upon open Ground. 1 had a 
Specimen of that yesterday. Hear two Brigades ran away from a 
small advanced party of the Regulars, tho' the General did all in 
his power to convince them they were in no danger. He laid his 
Cane over many of the officers who shewed their men the exam- 
ple of running. These were militia, the New England Continental 
Troops are much better. . . . 

Head Quarters Col". Morris's ia 1b Sep'. 1776. 

. . . . On Monday last we had a pretty smart skirmish with 
the British Troops which was brought on in the following Man- 
ner. The General rode down to our farthest Lines, and when he 
came near them heard a firing which he was informed was between 
our Scouts and the out Guards of the Enemy. When our men 
came in they informed the General that there were a party of 
about 300 behind a woody hill, tho' they only showed a very small 
party to us. Upon this General laid a plan for attacking them 
in the Rear and cutting off their Retreat which was to be effected 
in the following Manner. Major Leitch with three companies of 
Col . Weedons Virginia Regiment, and Col Knowlton with his 
Rangers were to steal round while a party were to march towards 
them and seem as if they intended to attack in front, but not to 


make any real Attack till they saw our men fairly in their Rear. 
The Bait took as to one part, as soon as they saw our party in 
front the Enemy ran down the Hill and took possession of some 
Fences and Bushes and began to fire at them, but at too great 
distance to do much execution : Unluckily Col°. Knowlton and 
Major Leitch began their Attack too soon, it was rather in Flank 
than in Rear. The Action now grew warm, Major Leitch was 
wounded early in the Engagement and Col . Knowlton soon after, 
the latter mortally, he was one of the bravest and best officers in 
the Army. Their Men notwithstanding persisted with the greatest 
Bravery. The Gen 1 finding they wanted support ordered over part 
of Col°. Griffiths's and part of Col . Richardson's Maryland Regi- 
ments, these Troops tho* young charged with as much Bravery as 
1 can conceive, they gave two fires and then rushed right forward 
which drove the enemy from the wood into a Buckwheat field, 
from whence they retreated. The General fearing (as we afterwards 
found) that a large Body was coming up to support them, sent me 
over to bring our Men off. They gave a Hurra and left the Field 
in good Order. We had about 40 wounded and a very few killed. 
A Serjeant who deserted says their Accounts were 89 wounded 
and 8 killed, but in the latter he is mistaken for we have buried 
more than double that Number — We find their force was much 
more considerable than we imagined when ,the General ordered 
the Attack. It consisted of the 2 <l Batl". of light Infantry, a 
Batt n . of the Royal Highlanders and 3 Comp". of Hessian Rifle 
Men. The prisoners we took, told us, they expected our Men 
would have run away as they did the day before, but that they 
were never more surprised than to see us advancing to attack them. 
The Virginia and Maryland Troops bear the Palm. They are 
well officered and behave with as much regularity as possible, 
while the Eastern people are plundering everything that comes in 
their way. An Ensign is to be tried for marauding to-day, the 
Gen 1 , will execute him if he can get a Court Martial to convict 
him — I like our post here exceedingly, I think if we give it up it 
is our own faults. You must excuse me to my other friends for 
not writing to them. I can hardly find time to give you a Line. 

[Memoir of Lieut. Col. Tencli Tilgliman. J. Munsell, Albany, 1876.] 



[No. 30.] 


New Jersey, Fort Constitution, Sept. 23, 1776. 

I know you must be anxious for the certainty of events of which 
you can have at that distance but a confused account, as I was on 
the spot will endeavor to give you as Concise & Just account as 
possible; on the 15th inst we evacuated New York & took all 
stores of every kind out of the city, and took possession of the 
hights of Haerlem eight miles from the City, the Enemy encamp'd 
about two miles from us ; on the 16th the Enemy advanced and 
took Possession of a hight on our Right Flank ab l half a mile 
Distance with about 3000 men, a Party from our Brigade [Nixon's] 
of 150 men who turned out as Volunteers under the Command of 
Lieut. Col Crary of the Regm 1 1 belong to [Varnum's, R.I.] were 
ordered out if possible to dispossess them, in about 20 minutes 
the Engagement began with as terrible a fire as ever I heard, when 
Orders came for the whole Brigade immediately to march to sup- 
port the first detachment, the Brigade consisted of ab* 900 men, 
we immediately formed in front of the* Enemy and march'd up in 
good order through their fire, which was incessant till within 70 
yards, when we engaged them in that situation, we engaged them 
for one hour and eights minits, when the Enemy Broke & Ran 
we pursued them to the next hights, when we were ordered to 
Retreat. Our loss does not exceed in killed and wounded twenty 
five men, the loss of the Enemy was very considerable but cannot 
be ascertained, as we observed them to carry of their dead and 
wounded the whole time of the Engagement, they left a Number 
of killed and wounded on the Field of Battle & a great number of 
Small Armes, the great Superiority of Numbers and every other 
advantage the enemy had, when considered makes the Victory 
Glorious, and tho' but over a part of [their Army yet the conse- 
quences of it are attended with advantages very great, as they 
immediately quitted the hights all round us and have not been 
troublesome since, our people behaved with the greatest Spirit, 
and the New England men have gained the first Lawrells. I re- 
ceived a slight wound in the Anckle at the first of the Engagement 



but never quited the field during the Engagement. I'm now 
Ready to give them the second part whenever they have an appe- 
tite, as I'm convinced whenever [they] stir from their ships we 
shall drubb them. 

[N. E. Hist, and Gen. Register, vol. xxx.] 

[No. 31.] 


On Sunday, the 15 th , the British, after sending three ships o 
war up the North River, to Bloomingdale, and keeping up, for 
some hours, a severe cannonade on our lines, from those already 
in the East river, landed in force at Turtle bay. Our new levies, 
commanded by a state brigadier-general, fled without making re- 
sistance. Two brigades of General Putnam's division, ordered to 
their support, notwithstanding the exertion of their brigadiers, and 
of the commander-in-chief himself, who came up at the instant, 
conducted themselves in the same shameful manner. His excel- 
lency then ordered the heights of Harlaem, a strong position, to 
be occupied. Thither the forces in the vicinity, as well as the 
fugitives, repaired. " In the mean time, General Putnam, with the 
remainder of his command, and the ordinary outposts, was in the 
city. After having caused the brigades to begin their retreat by 
the route of Bloomingdale, in order to avoid the enemy, who were 
then in possession of the main road leading to Kingsbridge, he 
galloped to call off the pickets and guards. Having myself been 
a volunteer in his division, and acting adjutant to the last regi- 
ment that left the city, I had frequent opportunities, that day, of 
beholding him, for the purpose of issuing orders, and encouraging 
the troops, flying, on his horse, covered with foam, wherever his 
presence was most necessary. Without his extraordinary exer- 
tions, the guards must have been inevitably lost, and it is probable 
the entire corps would have been cut in pieces. When we were 
not far from Bloomingdale, an aide-de-camp came from him at 
full speed, to inform that a column of British infantry was descend- 


ing upon our right. Our rear was soon fired upon, and the colo- 
nel of our regiment, whose order was just communicated for the 
front to file off to the left, was killed on the spot. With no other 
loss we joined the army, after dark, on the heights of Harlacm. 

Before our brigades came in, we were given up for lost by all 

our friends. So critical indeed was our situation, and so narrow 
the gap by which we escaped, that the instant we had passed, the 
enemy closed it by extending their line from river to river. Our 
men, who had been fifteen hours under arms, harassed by march- 
ing and counter-marching, in consequence of incessant alarms, ex- 
hausted as they were by heat and thirst, (for the day proved in- 
supportably hot, and few or none had canteens, insomuch, that 
some died at the works where they drank,) if attacked, could have 
made but feeble resistance. . . . 

That night our soldiers, excessively fatigued by the sultry march 
of the day, their clothes wet by a severe shower of rain that suc- 
ceeded towards the evening, their blood chilled by the cold wind 
that produced a sudden change in the temperature of the air, and 
their hearts sunk within them by the loss of baggage, artillery, and 
works in which they had been taught to put great confidence, lay 
upon their arms, covered only by the clouds of an uncomfortable 
sky. . . . Next morning several parties of the enemy appeared 
upon the plains in our front. On receiving this intelligence, Gen- 
eral Washington rode quickly to the outposts, for the purpose of 
preparing against an attack, if the enemy should advance with that 
design. Lieutenant-colonel Knowlton's rangers, a fine selection 
from the eastern regiments, who had been skirmishing with an 
advanced party, came in, and informed the general that a body of 
British were under cover of a small eminence at no considerable 
distance. His excellency, willing to raise our men from their de- 
jection by the splendor of some little success, ordered Lieutenant- 
colonel Knowlton, with his rangers, and Major Leitch, with three 
companies of Weedon's regiment of Virginians, to gain their rear ; 
while appearances should be made of an attack in front. As soon 
as the enemy saw the party sent to decoy them, they ran precipi- 
tately down the hill, took possession of some fences and bushest 
and commenced a brisk firing at long shot. Unfortunately, 
Knowlton and Leitch made their onset rather in flank than in rear. 
The enemy changed their front, and the skirmish at once became 
close and warm. Major Leitch having received three balls 


through his side, was soon borne from the field ; and Colonel 
Knowlton, who had distinguished himself so gallantly at the battle 
of Bunkerhill, was mortally wounded immediately after. Their 
men, however, undaunted by these disasters, stimulated with the 
thirst of revenge for the loss of their leaders, and conscious of 
acting under the eye of the commander-in-chief, maintained the 
conflict with uncommon spirit and perseverance. But the general, 
seeing them in need of support, advanced part of the Maryland 
regiments of Griffith and Richardson, together with some detach- 
ments from such eastern corps as chanced to be most contiguous 
to the place of action. Our troops this day, without exception, 
behaved with the greatest intrepidity. So bravely did they re- 
pulse the British, that Sir William Howe moved his reserve, with 
two field-pieces, a battalion of Hessian grenadiers, and a com- 
pany of chasseurs, to succor his retreating troops. General Wash- 
ington not willing to draw on a general action, declined pressing the 
pursuit. In this engagement were the second and third battalions 
of light infantry, the forty-second British regiment, and the Ger- 
man Chasseurs, of whom eight officers, and upward of seventy 
privates were wounded, and our people buried nearly twenty, who 
were left dead on the field. We had about forty wounded ; our 
loss in killed, except of two valuable officers, was very inconsider- 
able. An advantage so trivial in itself produced, in event, a sur- 
prising and almost incredible effect upon the whole army. 
Amongst the troops not engaged, who, during the action, were 
throwing earth from the new trenches, with an alacrity that indi- 
cated a determination to defend them, every visage was seen to 
brighten, and to assume, instead of the gloom of despair, the 
glow of animation. This change, no less sudden than happy, left 
little room to doubt that the men, who ran the day before at the 
sight of an enemy, would now, to wipe away the stain of that dis- 
grace, and to recover the confidence of their general, have con- 
ducted themselves in a very different manner. 

[Life of General Putnam, by Colonel Humphrey.] 


[No. 32.] 


. . . . Brigadier General Parsons: Says on the 15th, he 
ordered three regiments of his brigade, viz : Prescotfs, Tyler's, 
and Huntington's, to march from the lines near Corlear's Hook to 
assist the troops in the middle division under General Spencer, 
where the enemy were attempting to land ; that he soon rode on 
after these regiments by General Putnam's order, and found them 
in the main road ; asked the reason why they were not near the 
river where the enemy were landing, as he then supposed ; was 
told by the officers that the enemy's boats were gone farther east- 
ward, and probably would land at or near Turtle's Bay, on which 
they pursued their march on the road to the barrier across the 
street ; he, the examinant, being then near the rear of the three 
regiments, observed the front to advance on the road called 
Bloomingdale road, instead of going in the post-road ; on which 
he rode forward to the front of the brigade, in order to march 
them into the other road, when he found Colonel Tyler with his 
regiment, and was there informed they marched that way by order 
of Generals Putnam and Spencer, who were just forward ; this ex- 
aminant then rode forward on that road some little distance, per- 
haps sixty or eighty rods, to a road which turned off eastward to 
the post road, and found General Fellows' brigade in that cross 
road, marching eastward, and also saw Generals Washington, 
Putnam, and others, at the top of the hill eastward, and rode up 
to them ; General Washington directed that the examinant should 
attend to keep his brigade in order and march on into the cross 
road ; he accordingly rode back and met the brigade as they 
came into the cross road ; as he was riding back he saw Colonel 
Tyler in a lot on the south side the cross road coming from the 
Bloomingdale road to the cross road and asked him why he was 

1 Col. Tyler, commanding the 10"' Regiment of Continentals (from Con- 
necticut) was ordered under arrest by General Washington for "cowardice 
and misbehaviour before the enemy on Sunday, the 15"' instant." The 
testimony at the preliminary trial brought out somcof the incidents of that 
day's confusion and panic. 


not with the regiment ; he said he was very much fatigued, it 
being very hot, and was going across the lot to join the regiment, 
it being nearer than to keep the road ; this cxaminant then rode 
by the side of the brigade to near the top of the hill, his attention 
being to keep the brigade in order, and then heard General Wash- 
ington call out, " Take the walls !" and immediately added. 
" Take the corn-field !" a corn-field being then on the right adjoin- 
ing east on the main road, and north on the cross road ; immedi- 
ately from front to rear of the brigade the men ran to the walls, 
and some into the corn-field, in a most confused and disordered 
manner; this examinant then used his utmost endeavour to form 
the brigade into some order upon that ground, but the men were 
so dispersed he found it impossible ; he then rode back into the 
Bloomingdale road and there found a considerable part of the 
brigade but in no order ; General Washington was then forward in 
the Bloomingdale road, and sent for this examinant, and gave 
order to form the 'brigade as • soon as could be done, and march 
on to Harlem Heights ; as soon as the brigade could be reduced 
to any form, they marched on to Harlem Heights; when they had 
proceeded about a mile or two, a sudden panick seized the rear of 
the brigade; they ran into the fields out of the road ; the reason 
he knows not ; in the fields he saw Colonel Tyler, which was the 
first time he recollects to have seen the coltmel after the time he 

saw him crossing the lot to the front of his regiment 

Ensign Wait: Says that he was in the rear of the first com- 
pany of Colonel Tyler s regiment ; that after the brigade had 
crossed over from the Bloomingdale road towards the post road, 
where they met the enemy, he saw Colonel Tyler at the head of 
the brigade ; that when orders were given to man the stone wall, 
he saw the Colonel at the head of the regiment, who marched up 
to the fence and presented his piece, and supposes that he fired ; 
that after that he understood that orders were given to go into 
the corn-field, that after they had got into the corn-field, and a 
principal part of the brigade were retreating, the examinant heard 
Colonel Tyler say to the men, " Why do you run ? this will never 
beat them ;" that at that time he supposes the Colonel was nearly 
in the same place where he was when the fire first began, and that 
from his behaviour, he has no reason to believe that the Colonel 
was at all intimidated ; that from the situation the Colonel was in 
at the time of the firing, he has reason to believe that the Colonel 



was one of the last that retreated from the enemy ; that the first 
time he noticed the Colonel after the retreat from the enemy, was 
when they had marched about a mile from the cross road up the 
Blcomingdale road, where they got into some order, and that after 
that the Colonel continued in the front till the brigade reached 
the Heights of Harlem. . . . 

Paymaster Sill : Says that he had no opportunity of observing 
Colonel Tyler's conduct from the time that they crossed over from 
the Mocmingdalc road towards the post road, and had returned 
back to the Bloomingdale road and marched up it one mile ; that 
when the brigade had marched up that far, there was a cry from 
the rear that the Light-Horse were advancing, and that a great 
part of the battalion which Colonel Tyler commanded precipitately 
threw themselves into the lot on the west side of the road ; that 
the Colonel went into the lot and this examinant with him ; that 
from the Colonel's conduct at this juncture, it appeared to this 
examinant that his design in going into the lot was to bring back 
the men to the brigade, for that in his presence and hearing the 
Colonel threatened to fire upon them if they did not join the 

Sergeant Palmer : Says that when the brigade crossed over from 
the Bloomingdale road towards the post road, he was on the right 
of the front rank of the brigade which was led by Colonel Tyler % 
and that he had a full opportunity of observing the Colonel's con- 
duct till the time of the retreat ; .that on notice that the enemy 
were approaching and orders given to take the wall, the Colonel 
advanced to it, still keeping in the front, and was the first man in 
the brigade who fired ; that this examinant discharged his piece 
twice at the enemy, and on looking around he saw the whole bri- 
gade were retreating, the Colonel still remaining on the ground, 
with this examinant, and no person within several rods of them ; 
that upon this the Colonel ordered them to stop, and asked them 
why they run and commanded the officers to stop them ; that this 
not being effected, the Colonel and he retreated, the two last men 
of the brigade, the Colonel along the cross road as far as he re- 
mained in sight, and this examinant along the corn-field ; that when 
this examinant joined the brigade in the Bloomingdale road, he 
saw the Colonel at the head of it ; that when the cry was raised 
that the Light-Horse were advancing, which occasioned a great 
part of the battalion in front to betake themselves to the lot on 


the west side of the road, he heard the Colonel order them 

Corporals Breioster and Chapman ; Confirm what Sergeant 
Palmer said, that the Colonel was the last man that retreated from 
the enemy, and that they saw the Colonel, after having marched 
some distance on the cross road, strike off to the right, with intent, 
as they conceived, to get to the head of the regiment. 

I do hereby certify that the whole Court were of opinion that 
there is not sufficient evidence to warrant the charge of cowardice 
and misbehaviour against Colonel Tyler ; and that this report 
would have been made immediately on taking the examinations, 
had not the Court apprehended that, the Colonel, having been 
put under arrest by express order from Head Quarters, some evi- 
dence against him might have been pointed out from thence. 

Camp at White-Plains, October 26, 1776. 

John Morin Scott, Brigadier-General, 

[Force's Archives, Fifth Series, vol. ii. p. 1251.] 

[No. 33.] . 


In Camp at Helegatte, September 24, 1776. 
I had the honor on the 2d inst., of dispatching to Captain von 
Wangenheim a complete relation, to date, of our doings here with 
the condition, that he should send an exact copy of it to you, 
mentioning that the continuation would be forwarded to you, with 
a similar request to communicate it to Captain von Wangenheim. 
. . . I announced therefore, that the army camped from New 
Thown to Blockwels [Blackwell's] peninsula, only the brigade of 
Major-General Grand remained under the orders of General von 
Heister at Belfort \Bedford\ opposite New York, with the two 
Hessian brigades of Major-Generals Stirn and von Mirbach, 
together with Captain Bitter's English artillery brigade, which 
were posted behind the hostile works, in order to keep the rebels 
1 Maj. C. L. Baurmcistcr, of the Hessian Division. 


within bounds, in the city as well as in their redoubts thrown up 
on the side of the city, for which end 1 Captain and 100 men, 
towards noon on the 2nd. of September, were obliged to occupy 
Gouverneurs Island, upon which were found 10 iron cannons 
spiked, 4 18- and 6 32-pounders, many unfilled bombs, some thou- 
sand bullets, flour and salt meat in barrels. Every 24 hours this 
post was relieved by the pickets of the English and Hessian regi- 
ments; the shore was occupied from Helgatte to Reed-Hurck. 
Before Helgatte 2 frigates lay at anchor : la Briine and Niger, 
both of 32 guns, with a bombarding vessel, and on terra firma, just 
to the left side of these vessels, a battery was erected of 2 24- 
pounders, 4 12-pounders and 2 howitzers. Blockwell Island was 
occupied by 1 Captain and 100 men of the English infantry, and 
in the night of the 3d. of September the frigate Rose of 32 guns 
sailed out of the fleet up the East River, with 30 boats, leaving 
New York on the left, and without the slightest difficulty anchored 
in Whall Bay [Wallabout] and Buschwickfeste. All the enemy's 
cannon were put into a serviceable condition and conveyed to the 
batteries, which were found in part and also erected on the rising 
ground to the left of the village ferry as far as to Gouverneurs 
Island. . . . Often in the night rebels came over to the English 
camp in small boats, asked to serve, and enlisted in the newly 
raised brigade, 2000 men strong, of a Colonel de Lancy, whose 
ancestors settled on York Island, and who had much to suffer from 
the present rebels. Some 100 men, from the prisoners of the 
attack of August 27th., are also enrolled in tin's brigade. On the 
4th. of September, the English left their post on Blockwells Island, 
the rebels occupied it in force, and so strong, that the outposts on 
the main shore were exposed to a continuous fire, which even the 
great battery could not silence. The 5th. of September, 5 wagons 
and the requisite draught horses were furnished to every regiment, 
in New Thown also a forage magazine was erected, and the inhab- 
itants of Long Island recognized the royal authority, excepting 
the county of Suffolck, in which several thousand rebels still re- 
main, not collected together but scattered, ready to fight against 
us everywhere on the first opportunity ; why now Brigadier General 
Erkskinc with his strong detachment advanced no farther than 9 
English miles beyond Jamaika and the 6th of September was 
obliged to return is not to be divined ; it was then, that this best 
part of Long Island should have been kept for the winter-quarters, 


for till now wherever the army has been the country is stripped of 
provisions, cattle and horses, as everything is declared rebel prop- 
erty ; there is no longer an English regiment to be found incom- 
plete in horses, and this want will soon no longer appear in the 
Hessian regiments, as many officers obtain the horses they need 
for little money and even for nothing. I myself have 3 in this 

The happiness of the inhabitants, whose ancestors were all 
Dutch, must have been great ; genuine kindness and real abundance 
is everywhere, anything worthless or going to ruin is nowhere to 
be perceived. The inhabited regions resemble the Westphalian 
peasant districts, upon separate farms the finest houses are built, 
which are planned and completed in the most elegant fashion. 
The furniture in them is in the best taste, nothing like which is to 
be seen with us, and besides so clean and neat, that altogether it 
surpasses every description. 

The female sex is universally beautiful and delicately reared, 
and is finely dressed in the latest European fashion, particularly 
in India laces, white cotton and silk gauzes; not one of these 
women but would consider driving a double team the easiest of 
work. They drive and ride out alone, having only a negro riding 
behind to accompany them. Near every dwelling-house negroes 
(their slaves) are settled, who cultivate the*most fertile land, pas- 
ture the cattle, and do all the menial work. They are Christians 
and are brought on the coasts of Guinea, being sold again here 
among the inhabitants for 50 to 120 York pounds ahead; 20 
York shillings are such a pound and 37 York shillings make the 
value of a guinea. 

On the 7th the fleet was stationed between Reed Huck and 
Governeurs Island nearer to New York, and the baggage of the 
Hessian corps, remaining for the chief part on' board was loaded 
upon one transport for the greater convenience of each regiment, 
whereby there was a great relief from the repeated sending, fre- 
quently in vain for want of boats. The Brocklands-Lcinen was 
to be demolished, but on the representation of General von Heis- 
ter, that this could not be done by soldiers without compensation, 
especially as it would be the work of four weeks, General Howe 
recalled this order 

Many subjects are returning to the legitimate authority, and on 
Long Island the villages of Grevesand, New Utrecht, T'lattbusch, 

. -.- • -...-,-- .. - 


Brockland and Ferry are filled with the fugitive settlers, most of 
whom however find their dwellings empty, furniture smashed, not 
a window left whole and their cattle gone forever. .... 

I am to present the compliments of General von Heister. 
Colonel George Orboune, our Muster-Commissioner has already 
reviewed us. Major-Gen. Mirbach has had an attack of apoplexy, 
but he expects to recover ; but Major-General Stirn and Col. von 
Hering are more sick. 

With the greatest respect 

(Signed) Baurmeister. 
In the Detached Camp, at Helcatte, Sept. 24, 1776. . • 

Magazine of American History, N. Y., January, 1877. Original in the pot- 
session of Hon. George Bancroft.] 

[No. 34.] 



From the Old House at y" Manor of Fordham, 

Oct. 3 d , 76. 
. . . . The Enemy have not altered their situations much 
since you left us. Not long since Gen 1 Putnam with a party of 
16 or 1800 men as covering party went on to Harlem plains & 
with a number of waggons brought off a large quantity of Grain, 
but not the whole, for just at Day break the Enemy had manned 
their lines & were seen in collumn advancing : as our party were 
not more than half theirs it was thought best to retreat which was 
done in good order & without a skirmish. We are daily fetching 
off large quantities of Hay & Grain from Morrisania as we are 
daily in expectation of Landing & an attack there, though we arc 
determined not to leave the Ground without disputing it Inch by 
Inch. Whilst you was here there was a frigate opposite the Wid° 
Morris's House. Since that there has another come through & 
anchored just above Hell Gate opposite Harlem Church almost. 


Another has moved up East of Morrisania a mile or two near 
Frogs point where if they land they will probably march up through 
West Chester & come upon us by Williams's Tavern. 

[Original in possession of Rev. Dr. John Chester, Washington.] 

[No. 35] 


Fort Constitution, > 
Oct. 7:1776. f 
Dear Mother : 

.... On the 23 d (Sept.) a detachment from several Corps 
commanded by Lieut. Col. Jackson, consisting of 240 men were 
sent off to dislodge the enemy from Montressor's (Ward's) Island, 
for which purpose six boats were provided to carry 40 men each. 
Col. Jackson led, Major Hendly, of Charlestown with him. They 
were met by the enemy at the water's edge, before they landed, 
who gave them a heavy fire. Notwithstanding this the Col. landed 
with the party in his boat, gave them battle ami compelled them to 
retreat, called to the other boats to push and land, but the scoun- 
drels, coward -like, retreated back and left him and his party to fall 
a sacrifice. The enemy seeing this, 1 50 of them rushed out of 
the woods and attacked them again at 30 yards distance. Jack- 
son with his little party nobly defended the ground until every 
man but eight was killed on the spot, and himself wounded, be- 
fore he ordered a retreat. Major Hendly carrying off Col. Jack- 
son was shot dead as he was putting him into a boat, and not a 
single man of the 8 but what was wounded. One of them died at 
the oar before they landed on the Main. The officers who com- 
manded the other boats are all under arrest and will be tried for 
their lives. In short if some example is not made of such rascally 
conduct, there will be no encouragement for men of spirit to ex- 
ert themselves. As the case now is they will always fall a sacri- 
fice, while such low-lived scoundrels, that have neither Honour 
nor the Good of their Country at heart, will skulk behind and get 
off clear. Yours &c John Glover. 

[Collections of the Essex, Mass., Institute, vol. v. No. 2.] 


[No. 36.] 



Fort Lee, Nov. [17], 1776. 
Your favor of the 14th reached me in a melancholy temper. 
The misfortune of losing Fort Washington, with between two and 
three thousand men, will reach you before this, if it has not already. 
His Excellency General Washington has been with me for several 
days. The evacuation or reinforcement of Fort Washington was 
under consideration, but finally nothing concluded on. Day 
before yesterday, about one o'clock, Howe's adjutant-general made 
a demand of the surrender of the garrison in the general's name, 
but was answered by the commanding officer that he should de- 
fend it to the last extremity. Yesterday morning, General Wash- 
ington, General Putnam, General Mercer, and myself, went to the 
island to determine what was best to be done ; but just at the 
instant we stepped on board the boat the enemy made their 
appearance on the hill where the Monday action was, and began a 
severe cannonade with several field- pieces. Our guards soon fled, 
the enemy advanced up to the second line. This was done while 
we were crossing the river and getting upon the hill. The enemy 
made several marches to the right and to the left, — I suppose to 
reconnoitre the fortifications and the lines. There we all stood 
in a very awkward situation. As the disposition was made, and 
the enemy advancing, we durst not attempt to make any new 
disposition ; indeed, we saw nothing amiss. We all urged his 
Excellency to come off. I offered to stay. General Putnam did 
the same, and so did General Mercer ; but his Excellency thought 
it best for us all to come off together, which we did, about half an 
hour before the enemy surrounded the fort. The enemy came up 
Harlem River, and landed a party at head-quarters, which was 
upon the back of our people in the lines. A disorderly retreat 
soon took place ; without much firing the people retreated into 
the fort. On the north side of the fort there was a very heavy 
fire for a long while ; and as they had the advantage of the ground, 
I apprehend the enemy's loss must be great. After the troops 


retreated in the fort, very few guns were fired. The enemy 
approached within small-arm fire of the lines, and sent in a flag, 
and the garrison capitulated in an hour. I was afraid of the fort ; 
the redoubt you and I advised, too, was not done, or little or 
nothing done to it. Had that been complete, I think the garrison 
might have defended themselves a long while, or been brought off. 
I feel mad, vexed, sick, and sorry. Never did I need the consol- 
ing voice of a friend more than now. Happy should I be to see 
you. This is a most terrible event : its consequences are justly to 
be dreaded. Pray, what is said upon the occasion ? A line from 
you will be very acceptable. 

I am, dear sir, your obedient servant, 

N. Greene. 

No particulars of the action as yet has come to my knowledge. 
[Mem. on the back.] I have not time to give you a description 
of the battle. 

[Life and Correspondence of Henry Knox, Maj. Gen., &c. By Francis 
S. Drake, Boston, 1873.] 

[No. 37.] * 



Sunday April 23rd. — In Town were many Commotions tho' it 
was Sunday, on account of various Reports, especially from 
Boston, that Hostilities had been begun between the King's 
Troops and the Provincials. 

1 A part of this diary was published in the Moravian, Bethlehem, Pcnn., 
in 1876, with notes prepared by Rev. A. A. Rcinkc, present pastor of the 
Moravian congregation in New York. The extracts for 1775 appear in print 
now for the first time, and, of the whole, only those which bear upon public 
affairs arc given here. In 1776, the Moravian Church stood in Fair street 
(now Fulton), opposite tho old North Dutch Church on the corner of Wil- 
liam street. 


Thursday 27 th. Late in the evening, Br. & Sr. Van Vleck 
arrived from Bethlehem ; but finding the Town in such Commo- 
tions, he did not think it proper to stay for the present, appre- 
hending that he might be called upon to be a Member of the Com- 
mittee, &c. ; and therefore went the following Evening to Jacob- 
sen's at Staten Island. 

Saturday 29M. — This whole week, ever since last Sunday all was 
alarmed in the City; there was nothing but Comotion & Con- 
fusion. Trade & publick business was at a stand ; — soldiers were 
enlisted ; the Port was stopt, and the Inhabitants seized the Keys 
of the Custom House ; took the Arms & Powder into their Cus- 
tody, not trusting the Corporation, &c. A Panic & Fear seized the 
People ; many were for moving into the Country, & several did. 
The case was the same with some of our People, & especially the 
Sisters ; — we comforted & encouraged them as well as we could. 
To-day matters as to the Town took a Turn ; the Divisions & 
Animosities among one another ceased ; from whence [the most 
was to be feared at present ; — they all in general agreed to stand 
by one another, & use moderate measures; & since then it is 
grown more quiet ; & not so many fearful reports are spread. 

Sunday 30///. This afternoon some, of the new England Pro- 
vincials came to Town. 

Friday May 26///. — Being informed this Ev'ning that the Pro- 
vincial Congress which has begun in this City, had made out that 
all those Ministers that preach in English are by Turns to open 
each day the Congress's Consultations with Prayers, some further 
Inquiry was made into this Matter, & we understood, 

Saturday 27/// that the Matter is not so general as it is thought, 
& that if it should be offer'd one may excuse one's self. 

Tuesday June 6th. — There was again a Hurry in the Town on 
account of the King's Soldiers being taken on Board of the Man 
of War. But we remained in Peace. 

Sunday 25///. — In the Town it was very noisy ; for our Gover- 
nor, W m . Tryon was expected to come in on his return from Eng- 
land ; and at the same time General Washington of the Provin- 


cials, who has been appointed Chief Coiuandcr of all the Troops 
by the Continental Congress. They would show some regard to 
the Governor too, but the chief attention was paid to Gen. Wash- 
ington. Atone Church the Minister was obliged to give over; 
for the People went out, when the General came, who was received 
with much ado. The Governor came on shore late in the Ev'ning. 

Thursday August 24th. — Last night was a great Disturbance in 
the City. About Mid-night some of the Town Soldiers began to 
take away the Canons from the Battery. The Asia Man of War 
watched their motion ; the Captain Vandeput who is an humain 
Man & has no Intention to hurt the Town, but must protect the 
King's Property, fired a couple of guns about 12 o'clock; — his 
Barge & the Town People fired upon one another ; on both sides 
some were wounded, & one of the Barge Men killed. The whole 
city got up ; all was in alarm ; the Drums beating, & the soldiers 
gathering together. They got away 21 Canons; the Man of War 
fired a Broadside with balls, &c. Several houses were damaged. 
Many people flew from their houses, & among them Sr. Kilburn, 
who was but yesterday with her Effects, and many of Abr. V. 
Vlecks & his 2 little children, &c. come back to her own house. 
Thus things went on till Morning, & now the whole day thro' 
there is nothing but moving out of the Towti ; & fearful Reports. 
Several of our People moved likewise Abm. V. Vleck's family & 
Kilburn moved to Jas. Cargyll's, & on fresh alarming news the 
next day, with Eliz. Vandeursen & Hil. Waldron to Second River 
[New Jersey]. 

Friday 25//*. — Things were the same in the Town as yesterday, 
& rather worse. A correspondence was carried on between the 
Capt. of the Asia, & the Mayor of the City, & thro' the latter with 
the Committee or Congress, to adjust matters. ' Gov. Tryon acted 
as Mediator. Some hot-headed Men seemed to insist on pursuing 
their rash measures, while others, & rather the Majority, did not 
approve of it. 

Monday 28//1. — The Moving out of the Town continues, & the 
City looks in some Streets as if the Plague had been in it, so 
many Houses being shut up. Br. & Sr. Scuncfls, with their 7 
children, moved to-day to Philadelphia, for good & all. 



Another measure in the Town, which takes place this Week, 
namely to divide all Men between 16 & 50 years into Ward com- 
panies, caused Troubles, & was one reason why SeunefJf made 
Haste to get away, tho' he will doubtless meet with the same in 

Monday Sept. 11 t/i. — Last week & to-day several of the Inhabi- 
tants came back again to Town ; also some of our People. 

Monday \%th. — The Town-Soldiers, or the Minute Men made 
a great Parade to-day ; marching with their Baggage & Provision, 
&c. It was thought they went on an Expedition, but it was only 
a Trial. They went but 5 miles, & came back in the Ev'ning ; 
they made not only for themselves, but for the greatest Part of 
the Inhabitants an idle, noisy, & exceedingly ill-spent Day ; & 
they got, most of them, drunk ; fought .together where they had 
stopt ; & when they came back to Town ; so that many are now 
under the Doctor's & Surgeon's Hands. May the Lord have 
Mercy on this poor City. 

Tuesday Oct. lot/t. — On account of an attempt which had been 
made to take Blankets, Sheets, &c. out of the King's Store, the 
city was again in danger of being fired upon, & it caused new 
fear & alarm. However upon Consultations of the Comitlee or 
Congress & the Corporation, the goods were carried back again, 
& this Storm blew over, tho' some ill designed Persons were not 
pleased with it. 

Other accounts & Reports this Week made that several families 
move again out of the Town ; & it is observed that some of the 
Head-Men begin to hang down their Heads, & many believe they 
will be ruin'd men. 

Monday lGth. — The Report that the Crown Officers, & also our 
Governor here, will be taken up, & on which account Gov. Tryon 
had wrote a Letter to the Mayor, which appeared in print, caused 
new Alarm this week. 

Thursday lyt/t. — In the Afternoon a Captain 1 of the Rifle Men 
1 Capt. Michael Crcsap, of Maryland. 


who some time ago marched with his Company thro' Bethlehem, 
& now coming from Cambridge near Boston died here, was in- 
terred in Trinity Church-yard, with great Pomp, & military Hon- 
ours. All the Companies, many of the Clergy Men, & a great Con- 
course of the People attended. 

Saturday 21st. — In the afternoon Br. & Sr. Henry Van Vleck 
all on sudden resolved to leave N. York & to return to Bethlehem, 
or at least for the present to go to Brunswig. The Reason was 
because a Report was spread that a Transport with Troops had 
been cast away on the Jersey Coast ; from whence it was con- 
cluded, & they thought to have sure Intelligence, that some 
Troops, with the Fleet from England, would be here soon. They 
went this Ev'ning to Powl's Hook. 


Thursday \WiJanuary. — Last night and to-day Troops came 
in from the Jerseys ; the troubles begin again. 

Monday 29th. — The troubles in the town increased. Ten- 
broeks' moved to Second River on Weflnesday. They would 
have gone on Tuesday, but the weather was too bad. 

Sunday 4th February. — This afternoon Mr. Lee, a General of 
the New English (New England) troops came to town ; as also 
the " Mercury," a man of war, with General Clinton. The men 
of war here took a merchant ship coming in, &c. ; all which made 
many commotions in the town. 

Monday $th. — Soldiers came to town both from Connecticut und 
the Jerseys, and the whole aspect of things grew frightful, and in- 
creased so from day to day. The inhabitants began now to move 
away in a surprising manner. The weather was very cold, and 
the rivers full of ice, which proved a great obstruction to the 
People's moving. However, in the middle of the week it thawed 
fast, which seemed also to answer the prevention of designs against 
the men of war, the execution of which might have proved very 
fatal to the city. One could not pass the streets without feeling a 


great deal ; and at last we were obliged to encourage it that our 
sisters and young People might retreat. At the end of the week 
about 40 of our People were Moved. 

Sunday 11//1. — This was a gloomy day. The carts went all the 
day with the goods of the people that are moving ; moreover, in 
the forenoon the Soldiers began to take away all the guns from 
the Battery and the Fort, and continued till late. This caused an 
hourly expectation, especially in the afternoon, that the men of 
war would fire ; however they did not. It did not at all look like 
a Sunday. In some churches they had no service ; in others 
hardly any People. In the forenoon we had a discourse from be- 
hind the table, from the yesterday's watch-word ; " I the Lord do 
keep it ; I will water it every moment, lest any hurt it," &c. In 
the afternoon was preaching on Lamentations III. 39-41 : 
" Wherefore doth a living man complain, &c. Let us search and 
try our ways," &c. Both times we had more hearers than we ex- 

Monday 12//1. — His Majesty's ship, the "Mercury," with Genl. 
Clinton, and the " Transport " with the soldiers left the harbour 
yesterday, to proceed on their voyage southward. The moving 
out of the town continues. 

Saturday 17///. — The whole week those of our people who are 
yet in town were visited. This morning the " Phoenix" went out 
of the harbor, down to the watering place and the hook. In the 
afternoon the " Asia," the ship with the Governor and the two 
Prices, moved also out of the east river, and when she was oppo- 
site the White Hall she was fast upon a rock. All was in agita- 
tion in town ; and it seemed there was a thought of attacking 
her, &c. ; but they dropt it ; and with the high water the " Asia" 
got afloat and lies how in the bay below the Island. 

Wednesday 21st. — In the afternoon Sister Esther Pell came to 
town from Middle Town Point. The boat she came in, laden 
with wood, was stopped by the men of war, and was sent back ; 
but the passengers were allowed to come to town. 

Sunday 25///. — In the forenoon only a discourse was kept on 
the watch-word of to-morrow. In the afternoon a sermon was 


preached on the day's gospel. Several of the New England 
people were present. In the town the work at the entrenchments 
continued, and some branches of trade were likewise working. 
At night Sister Shewkirk came back from Second River. 

Wednesday 13M March* — A packet from England arrived once 
again, and brought an uncommon number of letters; but they 
came not on shore. The postmaster would not take them, for 
fear that they might be seized without the postage being paid. 
The people were not suffered to go on board to fetch them ; un- 
less they took an oath to tell nothing that is done in the city. A 
packet for Bethlehem, directed to Bro. Shewkirk, had been sent 
from England along with the government despatches post-free, 
and was brought by Mr. Ross in the King's Service, who had 
been on board privately. 

Sunday ith April. — Easter. To-day and last night the commo- 
tions in the city begin to be greater ; attacks have been made on 
the little islands, and at the watering place. 

Monday 8tn. — Sister Kilburn who had got the officers, &c, out 
of her house, got it cleaned and in order again. Tho' these 
lodgers had been better than common soldiers, yet she found her 
house and premises much injured. Sister Hilah Waldron on the 
following days got likewise the soldiers out of one of her houses, 
but she has suffered a great deal more. Indeed it is beyond de- 
scription, how these uncivilized, rude, and wild People, abuse the 
finest houses in the city. 

Tuesday 30///. — Sisters Kilburn and Hilah Waldron, and Sister 
Boelens have got the soldiers out of their houses. 

Friday 17M May. — This day had been appointed a day of fast- 
ing and prayer throughout the country ; therefore wc had preach- 
ing in the fore and afternoon. The Text, a. m., was from Joel ii. 
12, 13, 14. "Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to 
me with all your heart, and with fasting and with weeping, and 
with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments, and 
turn unto the Lord your God ; for He is gracious and merciful, 
slow to anger and of great kindness, and rcpentcth Him of the 
evil. Who knowcth if He will return and repent, and leave a 


blessing behind Him ?" The text, p. m., was from Hosca xiv. 
1-3 : " O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God, for thou hast 
fallen by thine iniquity," &c. Our Saviour gave grace, in this 
critical juncture of affairs, to keep in the speaking to the subject 
of the text, and to avoid in the application what might be excep- 
tionable. We had a pretty numerous auditory in the afternoon ; 
also some of the officers. All behaved with attention. To-day 
the news came that the Provincials have raised the Siege of 
Quebec, with the loss of their artillery, baggage, and some hun- 
dreds of sick. 

Thursday 13/// June. — Here in town very unhappy and shock- 
ing scenes were exhibited. On Munday night some men called 
Tories were carried and hauled about through the streets, with 
candles forced to be held by them, or pushed in their faces, and 
their heads burned ; but on Wednesday, in the open day, the 
scene was by far worse; several, and among them gentlemen, 
were carried on rails ; some stripped naked and dreadfully 
abused. Some of the generals, and especially Pudnam and their 
forces, had enough to do to quell the riot, and make the mob dis- 

Friday 14M. — A printed letter from, the Continental Congress 
was distributed, which gave intelligence that for certain, within 
ten days, the fleet from Halifax would be here, and it was strongly 
recommended to make all possible defence. In consequence of. 
this, many more troops came to town, and all was in alarm. 

Tuesday 1W1. — To-day men were drafted out of the different 
Ward Companies. This matter gave us some anxiousness. Our 
brethren could not stand out, as times and circumstances are, and 
had none to apply to. One Alleviation is, that a man drafted 
may hire another man, if he can get one. Of our people were 
only drafted Robt. Thomas and Abraham Van Vleck. The town 
is now pretty full again of the soldiers that are come from Penn- 
sylvania and other parts ; and the moving of the inhabitants out 
of town continues. 

Saturday 22^.— Yesterday and to-day the news came that the 
fleet was arrived at the Hook, and the troops from Halifax ; 
which caused new alarm. 


r Sunday 30///. — Some of the inhabitants moved to-day out of 
town ; the Provincial Soldier? were busy, and had no service ; and 
in general there is little attention paid to the Sunday. Our 
preachings were yet tolerably well attended. The to-day's Word 
was, *' The work of Righteousness shall be Peace, &c." At 5 was 
the Congregational Meeting, in which wc called to mind that to- 
day we conclude the first half of this year ; and how graciously 
our dear Lord has helped us through in the troubles of the 
country, that begun to increase much with the beginning of the 
year, and have lasted more or less ever since ; and now, as they 
approach yet more seriously, the watch-word with which we begin 
the next half year, is very comfortable, and was spoke upon : 
" Thou shalt know that I am the Lord, for they shall not be 
ashamed that wait for mc." Our brethren and sisters parted as if 
there might again be a scattering, and it proved so ; for, the fol- 
lowing week several more left again the town. 

Monday \st yuly. — The .watch-word of the first day of this 
month was very comfortable, and suitable to the time we are in. 
In the evening the news came that the fleet, or part of it, had left 
the Hook, and was coming nearer. 

Tuesday 2d. — This, and more so when rbwards noon the first 
ships appeared in sight this side the narrows, — put the whole town 
into commotion. On the one hand every one that could was for 
packing up and getting away ; and on the other hand the country 
soldiers from the neighboring places came in from all sides ; and 
here the Ward companies were likewise warned out. Theodore 
Sypher's wife and child came to our house, and staid with us this 
night ; but the next day went to a house a couple of miles out of 
town. In the evening we had our usual meeting. 

Wednesday 3//. — Bro. Sleur who had brought his wife and 
daughter into the country put several of his things into Bro. 
Henry Van Vleck's vault ; we put also in some goods belonging 
to the house, &c. To-day we heard that the shop goods and 
clothes belonging to Sr. Hilah Waldron and sons, Henry Ten 
Broeck, Eliz. Van Deurscn, Sr. Keed, Sr. Kilburn, Abr. Van Vleck, 
&c, to the amount of above jCjoo, which went in a boat yester- 
day with several other people's goods were taken, with the boat, 


by a Man of War. Our people would not have sent their goods 
with this boat, if they had not been encouraged by the people be 
longing to the boat, whom they knew ; and who repeatedly told 
that they could not nor would they go doivn the river, but go up 
the North river, or put the goods down at or about Powl's Hook ; 
and yet they went straight down towards the fleet. There were 
also some passengers on board. From all circumstances it 
appeared plain that it was done designedly. 

Thursday $th. — The fear that the fleet would come up to the 
town began to subside. It was heard that they had taken pos- 
session of Staten Island; and that they would hardly advance 
farther before the fleet from England arrives. The country 
soldiers of the neighboring places were sent back again ; on the 
other hand more of the New England troops came in. 

Wednesday 10th. — Sr. Hilah Waldron, who had applied to 
Washington to get a pass to Staten Island, but got none, went 
again to Second river, in order to go with Sr. Kilburn to Eliza- 
bethtown, to try whether they could get one there ; for the cap- 
tain of the Man of War had told them that he wished they would 
come for their goods. 

Friday \zth. — A few more ships came in through the Narrows, 
and it was reported that the great fleet from England began to 
arrive. In the afternoon about 3 o'clock there was unexpectedly 
a smart firing. Two Men of War, with some Tenders came up. 
They fired from all the batteries, but did little execution. The 
wind and tide being in their favor, the ships sailed fast up the 
North river, and soon were out of sight. When they came this 
side of Trinity Church, they began to fire smartly. The balls and 
bullets went through several houses between here and Greenwich. 
Six men were killed ; either some or all by ill-managing the can- 
nons ; though it is said that a couple were killed by the ship's 
firing ; one man's leg was broke, &c. The six were put this even- 
ing into one grave on the Bowling Green. The smoke of the 
firing drew over our street like a cloud ; and the air was filled 
with the smell of the powder. This affair caused a great fright in 
the city. Women, and children, and some with their bundles 
came from the lower parts, and walked to the Bowery, which was 
lined with people. Mother [Bosler had been brought down into 


their cellar. Phil. Sypher's, with their child, which was sick, came 
again to our house. Not long after this affair was over, the fleet 
below fired a Salute, Admiral Howe corning in from England. 
The Srs. Van Deurscn and Reed would fain have gone out of 
town this evening, but they could not bring it to bear. 

Sunday 14M. — It was n wcttish day, and it looked as if all was 
dead in the town. The English (Church of England) churches 
were shut up, and there was services in none, or few of the others ; 
we had not many hearers either. 

Tuesday 16//1. — Bro. Wilson who came to town last Friday, — for 
he could be in peace no more at Second River, as the country 
people will have the Yorkers to be in town, — asked for a pass to 
go over on business ; but they would give him none. This week 
they have begun to let no man go out of the city. Last Sunday, 
a flag of truce brought a letter to Washington ; but having not 
the title which they give him here, it was not received. Yesterday 
a message was sent down from here ; to-day an answer came, 
(Geo. Washington, Eqr., &c, &c.,) but was again returned on 
account of the direction. 

Thursday 18M, was the day appointed when Independence 
was to be declared in the City Hall here ; which was done 
about noon ; and the Coat of Arms of the King was burnt. An 
unpleasant and heavy feeling prevailed. 

Saturday 20th. — About noon a General Adjutant from Lord 
Howe came, and had a short conversation with General Washing- 
ton, in Kennedy's house. When he went away he said, it is re- 
ported, to Washington and the others with him : " Sir and gentle- 
men, let it be remembered that the King has made the first over- 
ture for peace ; if it be rejected, you must stand by the conse- 
quences ;" and thus — which seems to have been the main errand 
— he departed. Much politeness passed on both sides. 

Monday 22nd. — Our Bro. Wilson looking at the ferry, whither 
his negro was come with some goods from Second River, wr k s put 
under arrest by one Johnson, and treated very basely by him, on 
account of a charge laid against him by one Gordon, at the Falls, 
about 12 miles from Second River; that he and his son had 

-w.wi'lM i lAMl* IMW 


spoken against the American cause ; were dangerous persons ; 
and had done much mischief to their neighborhood, &c. Bro. 
Wilson appeared before the Committee, the chairman knew noth- 
ing of the charge. Wilmot, one of the Committee did, but they 
could prove nothing; and Wilson could easily clear himself. 
The result was, — if he resided at Second River, they thought he 
should stay there. Many persons were ordered to-day to quit 
the town, because they were suspected. 

Tuesday 2$d. — Bro. Wilson got a pass, and went to Second 
River to-day. 

Monday 29//1. — Bro. Wilson came from Second River ; he had 
got a certificate of the Committee there, which cleared him suffi- 
ciently of the late charge ; and the Committee here gave him a 
pass to go to Pennsylvania. He brought letters from Bethlehem, 
where he intends to go this week ; and returned to Second River 
this afternoon. He also brought word that our people have got 
their goods that were taken with the boat. 

Wednesday 14/// August. — There was much alarm in the town, 
as it was expected that the next morning an attack would be 
made on the city by the King's troops ; which however, did not 
prove so. 

Saturday ijtfi. — Towards night a proclamation was published, 
in which all women, children, and infirm people were advised to 
leave the city, with all possible speed ; as a bombardment was ex- 
pected ; those that were indigent should be assisted and provided 
for. This caused a new fright. Some of the sisters yet in town 
came to Br. Shewkirk to advise with him about it. 

Sunday 18//1. — Early in the morning the two men of war and 
their tender, that had been up the North River, came back; 
which caused again a sharp cannonading till they were passed. 
Yesterday, a fortnight ago, they had been attacked by the Row- 
gallies and a Privateer, which were obliged to desist from their 
attempt ; having been gradually worsted by the men-of-war, and 
lost several of their men. Last week they attacked them with 
fire-ships, but could not obtain their end, and lost one of their 
captains ; they then sunk vessels, and thought to be sure of hav- 


ing stopped their passage ; however, they came back. It was a 
rainy morning, with a north east wind. The fright seemed to be 
not as great as it was when they went up ; and yet the balls hurt 
more houses ; some men were likewise hurt. 

Phil. Sypher's experienced a kind preservation. A nine 
pounder came through the old German church on the Broad 
Way, into the house they lived in, opposite the Lutheran church, 
and into the room where they slept ; but they were up and out of 
the room. The ball come through the window, which it mashed 
to pieces, with part of the framework ; went through the opposite 
wall near the head of the bedstead ; crossed the staircase to 
another room ; but meeting with a beam in the wall, came back 
and went a part through the side wall, and then dropt down on 
the stairs. A thirty-two pounder, supposed coming from the 
Powlis Hook battery, fell into Sr. Barnard's garden, just before 
her door. If there was service kept, it was but in one church. 
Our preaching in the forenoon was on Jer. 45 : 19 ; "I said not 
unto the seed of Jacob, seek ye me in vain," &c, and in the even- 
ing from Matt. 6, 19 20 ;" Lay not up for yourselves treasures 
on earth" &c. 

Wednesday 21st. — In the evening ... a very heavy thun- 
der storm came on. It lasted for several* hours, till after 10 
o'clock ; an uncommon lightning ; one hard clap after the other ; 
heavy rain mixed at times with a storm like a hurricane. The 
inhabitants can hardly remember such a tempest, even when it 
struck into Trinity church twenty years ago ; they say it was but 
one very hard clap, and together did not last so long by far. 
Upon the whole it was an awful scene. Three officers, viz., one 
Captain, and two Lieuts., were killed in one of the Camps ; they 
were all Yorkers ; and one soldier of the New English People was 
likewise killed in a house in the square ; several others were hurt, 
and the mast of one of the row gallies mash'd to pieces. 

Thursday zzd and Friday 2yl. — The king's troops landed on 
Long Island. The troops from here went over, one Battalion 
after the other, and many kept on coming in ; yet, upon the 
whole their number certainly was not so great as it commonly 
was made. In the evening we had the congregational meeting 
with the little company that was present. We resolved to dro;> 

■ ■ 


the Wednesday meeting for the present, and to begin that on 
Tuesday and Friday at 6 o'clock: 

Monday 26///. — A good deal of firing was heard on Long 
Island, and several skirmishes happened between the scouting par- 
ties, wherein the Provincials sustained loss. 

Tuesday 27/// was a Fast and Prayer-day in this Province ; 
which had been appointed by the Convention ; but here in the 
city it was not and could' not be observed. On the one hand, 
there are but few inhabitants in the town, and the soldiers were 
busily employed ; on the other hand there was much alarm in the 
city. Soon, in the morning, an alarm gun was fired in expectation, 
that the ships were coming up ; which however proved not so ; 
but on Long Island there was a smart engagement, in which the 
Americans suffered greatly. Two generals, Sullivan and Sterling, 
and many other officers and soldiers were taken prisoners. All 
the troops now went over ; those from King's Bridge came like- 
wise, and went over the next morning. As very few of our 
people came, we kept only a little meeting in the forenoon, in 
which a short discourse was kept on Jer. 48, 17 and 18.; and 
concluded with a moving prayer, kneeling. This (the result of 
the battle) was an agreeable disappointment for all honest men ; 
for what could such a fast signify, when men want to pursue 
measures against the Word and Will of God, &c. 

Wednesday 28//1. — The different parties on Long Island kept on 
to be engaged with one another ; the firing was plainly heard. 
Pro. Shewkirk met with a young man, who waited on Ensign Good- 
man, and who was come back from Long Island. He told him 
that he, and a small number of his regiment — Huntington's, — had 
escaped with their lives. It had been a sight he should never for- 
get ; such as he never wished to see again. This young man is 
of a serious turn, and religious more than common, and promises 
to be the Lords'. In the afternoon we had extraordinary heavy 
rains and thunder. From one of the Forts of the Continental 
army on Long Island, two alarm guns were fired in the midst of 
the heavy rain ; supposing that the regulars would attack their 
line somewhere between Flatbush and Brockland ; all the men 
were ordered out though it rained prodigiously ; it was found, 


after some time, that it was a false alarm. The sound of these 
alarm guns had just ceased, when, immediately after, a flash of 
lightning came, followed by a clap of thunder. It was awful. 
The very heavy rain, with intermixed thunder, continued for 
some hours till towards evening. In the night the battling on 
Long Island continued, and likewise, 

Thursday 2gt/i ; and in the afternoon such heavy rain fell again 
as can hardly be remembered ; nevertheless the operations on 
Long Island went on more or less ; and behold, in the night, the 
Americans thought it advisable to retreat, and leave Long Island 
to the King's troops. They found that they could not stand their 
ground, and feared to be surrounded, and their retreat cut off. 
The great loss they had sustained, the want of provision and 
shelter, in the extraordinary Wet ; the unfitness of many of their 
troops for war, &c. ; undoubtedly contributed to this resolution. 

Friday 30///. — In the morning, unexpectedly and to the sur- 
prize of the city, it was found that all that could come back was 
come back ; and that they had abandoned Long Island ; when 
many had thought to surround the king's troops, and make them 
prisoners with little trouble. The language was now otherwise ; 
it was a surprising change, the merry tones* on drums and fifes 
had ceased, and they were hardly heard for a couple of days. 
It seemed a general damp had spread ; and the sight of the scat- 
tered people up and down the streets was indeed moving. Many 
looked sickly, emaciated, cast down, &c. ; the wet clothes, tents, 
— as many as they had brought away, — and other things, were 
lying about before the houses and in the streets to-day ; in gen- 
eral everything seemed to be in confusion. Many, as it is re- 
ported for certain, went away to their respective homes. The 
loss in killed and wounded and taken has been great, and more 
so than it ever will be known. Several were drowned and lost 
their lives in passing a creek to save themselves. The Philadel- 
phia, Pennsylvania, and Maryland people lost the most ; the New 
England people, &c, it seems are but poor soldiers, they soon 
took to their heels. At night, the few that came or would come, 
had a meeting on the texts; and the next day we ended this 
troublesome month with the watch-word, " He that believeth shall 
not make haste." " Grant me to lean unshaken, &c." 

. t 



Sunday ist September. — We had our preaching in ihe forenoon, 
and in the evening as usual ; and in the afternoon the Congrega- 
tion meeting. At the preachings we had goodly companies of 

Tuesday $d. — The evening meeting was on the Watchword and 
Text. The rebel army begun to re-collect themselves ; and the 
greatest part marched towards Harlem, and along the East River, 
some miles from here; the king's army advanced eastward on 
Long Island, opposite the Hell Gate, and thereabouts. 

Monday gth. — Whereas the troubles of War were now near 
Watts' House, Phil. Sypher fetched his wife, child, and goods back 
from thence to town, as also the things out of the Chapel House 
that had been there ; and it was just high time, else they might 
have been lost ; for this house soon after was plundered by the 
king's troops. Several other people came back from those parts. 
By the measures and proceedings of the Rebel army, it appeared 
evident, that' they intended to leave the city ; for as they had 
begun last week, so all this week, they removed their sick, their 
stoves, and ammunition, and gradually the soldiers marched away. 
They likewise took the bells out of all the Churches and con- 
veyed them away. 

Wednesday nth and Thursday 12th. — Night and day they were 
busy to bring their things away ; and it appeared plain, that there 
would be a change soon ; the reports were various. Almost daily 
there was firing from Long Island to Horn's Hook, and the ship 
yards here. 

Friday 13th. — In the afternoon, some Men of War went up the 
East river; the few cannons left, fired on the ships, which caused 
that they fired back from Long Island and Governor's Island and 
very smartly. Isaac Van Vleck, who is too much bewildered in 
the matter, made haste to get out of town. 

Saturday 14th. — In the afternoon more ships went up the East 
River, which being fired on again, brought on another smart cannon- 
ading ; some Houses were damaged and it was very unsafe to walk 
in the streets. The remainder of the Rebel army hasted away, 


and so did the members of the Committee, and others of the 
deluded people. 

Sunday 15M. — Soon in the morning when the tide served, more 
ships passed up both the North and East river ; and though what 
was yet in town of the Rebel troops got away as fast as they 
could, yet they fired again on the ships, as they did likewise from 
Powles Hook; which caused a cannonading which made the 
houses shake, and the sound of it was terrible. One large ball, 
supposed to come from Powles Hook flew against the North 
Church, just opposite the chapel broke, and a part of it went 
back into a neighboring cellar kitchen, where a negro woman was, 
who came running over to the kitchen of the chapel-house ; where 
also Syphers' family was, who had been there all night, as they 
lived near the fort, where the houses were most exposed to the 
firing. After some time the firing ceased, and at the usual time 
we had the forenoon's preaching, in all stillness ; the only service 
kept in the city. About this time the king's troops had landed on 
York Island, about three miles from the city ; there was some 
slaughter, and the rebels were made to retreat towards Harlem. 
In the afternoon at three was the congregation meeting ; but the 
evening preaching we thought proper to drop. There was a good 
deal of commotion in the town ; the Continental stores were broke 
open, and people carried off the provisions ; the boats crossed to 
Powles' Hook backward and forward yet till toward evening ; 
some people going away and others coming in ; but then the ferry 
boats withdrew, and the passage was stopped. Some of the king's 
officers from the ships came on shore, and were joyfully received 
by some of the inhabitants. The king's flag was put up again in 
the fort, and the Rebels' taken down. And thus the city was now 
delivered from those Usurpers who had oppressed it so long. 

Monday Sept. iGlh. — In the forenoon the first of the English 
troops came to town. They were drawn up in two lines in the Broad 
Way ; Governor Tryon and others of the officers were present, 
and a great concourse of people. Joy and gladness seemed to 
appear in all countenances, and persons who had been strangers 
one to the other formerly, were now very sociable together, and 
friendly. Pro. Shcwkirk, who accidentally came to it, met with 
several instances of that kind. — The first that was done was, that 


all the houses of those who have had a part and a share in the Re- 
bellion were marked as forfeited. Many indeed were marked by 
persons who had no order to do so, and did it perhaps to one or 
the other from some personal resentment. Bro. Shewkirk, walk- 
ing through the streets, saw to his grief, that several houses be- 
longing to our people were likewise marked ; as Sr. Kilburn's, 
Hilah Waldron's, and Sr. Bouquet's, King's, Isaac Van Vleck's, 
&c. He wrote afterwards to Governor Tryon, congratulating him 
on the late happy event, and at the same time interceded in behalf 
of the 2 Ww's houses. The word of this day was remarkable : 
" Israel shall be saved in the Lord, with an everlasting salvation ; 
ye shall not be confounded world without end." The following 
day everything was pretty quiet, though almost daily they brought 
in prisoners, who were lodged in the Dutch and Presbyterian 
churches. The fear one had of the city's being destroyed by fire 
subsided, and the inhabitants thought themselves now pretty 
secure ; little thinking that destruction was so near. 

Friday 20th. — Bro. Jacobsen came from Staten Island, and it 
was a true mutual joy to see one another ; as, for a couple of 
months we could have no communication with Staten Island. By 
him we heard that our people there w^re all well. 

Saturday 21st. — In the first hour of the day, soon after mid- 
night, the whole city was alarmed by a dreadful fire. Bro. Shew- 
kirk, who was alone in the chapel-house, was not a little struck, 
when he saw the whole air red, and thought it to be very near ; 
but going into the street, he found that it was in the low west end 
of the town ; and went thither. When he came down the Broad 
Way, he met with Sr. Sykes and her children. She was almost 
spent carrying the child, and a large bundle besides. He took 
the bundle, and went back with them, and let them in to our 
house ; when he left them, and returned with their prentice to the 
fire, taking some buckets along. The fire was then in the lower 
part of Broad street, Stone street, &c. It spread so violently that 
all what was done was but of little effect ; if one was in one street 
and looked about, it broke out already again in another street above ; 
and thus it raged all the night, and till about noon. The wind was 
pretty high from southeast, and drove the flames to the northwest. It 
broke out about White Hall ; destroyed a part of Broad street, 


Stone street, Beaver street, the Broadway, r.nd then the streets 
going to the North River, and all along the North river as far as 
the King's College. Great pain was taken to save Trinity church, 
the oldest and largest of the English churches, but in vain ; it was 
destroyed, as also the old Lutheran church ; and St. Paul's, at the 
upper end of the Broadway, escaped very narrowly. Some of our 
families brought of their goods to our house. Bro. Shewkirk had 
the pleasure to be a comfort to our neighbors, who were much 
frightened the fire might come this way ; and indeed, if the wind 
had shifted to the west as it had the appearance a couple of times, 
the whole city might have been destroyed. The corner house of 
our street, going to the Broadway, catched already ; Bro. Shewkirk 
ordered our long ladder, and the others to be fetched out of our 
burying ground ; which were of service in carrying the water up 
to the roof of said house in buckets ; and by the industry of all 
the people the fire was put out. Several of our people have sus- 
tained considerable loss : Sr. Kilburn has lost two houses ; Pell's 
three houses ; Jacobson one, and Widow Zoeller her's ; and others 
have lost a part of their goods ; as Lepper, Eastman, &c. 

There are great reasons to suspect that some wicked incendia- 
ries had a hand in this dreadful fire, which has consumed the 
fourth part of the city ; several persons have been apprehended ; 
moreover there were few hands of the inhabitants to assist ; the 
bells being carried off, no timely alarm was given ; the engines 
were out of order ; the fire company broke ; and also no proper 
order and directions, &c. ; all which contributed to the spreading 
of the flames. 

Monday 23d. — The fire has thrown a great damp on the former 
joyful sensation ; numbers of people were carried to Jail, on sus- 
picion to have had a hand in the fire, and to have been on the 
Rebel's side ; it is said about 200 ; however, on examination, the 
most men were as fast discharged. 

Bro. Conrad, also, was taken to Jail, but after a couple of days 
he came out again. Daniel Van Vleck expected the same, which 
made his wife and family much distressed ; for he had often talked 
too inconsiderate, and in a wrong spirit ; however it blew over. 
After all, it is observable, that those of our people who had kept 
themselves free from the Infatuation, were acknowledged as such, 
and met with nothing disagreeable of that kind. 

■ .."' 


Nmvmlvr, — In November new troubles began on account of 
the quartering of the soldiers, of whom more and more come in ; 
as also many of their women and children. Many of the public 
buildings were already filled with Prisoners, or sick, &c ; 
especially all the Dutch and Presbyterian churches, as also the 
French church, the Baptists, and new Quaker meeting ; and we were 
not without apprehension, that something of that nature might 
come upon us ; and this the more, as the Chapel-House has the 
appearance of a spacious building; and just opposite the same 
they were fitting up the fine north church of the English Dutch 
for Barracks. 

Saturday \dth. — From early in the morning till towards noon, a 
heavy cannonading was heard, tho' at a considerable distance ; 
one heard afterwards that the king's troops had attacked the lines 
and the famous Fort Washington, and carried it ; several thou- 
sands of the rebels were taken prisoners, &c. The king's army 
has been about 2 months thereabouts ; and there have been, from 
time to time, sharp engagements, at the White Plains, &c ; till at 
last they have driven them away from the York Island ; and it 
was a matter of moment, as now one may hope that the commu- 
nication with the Jerseys will be open'd, as also with the places 
up the East River ; so that the Inhabitants may come to the city 
and provisions be brought in ; especially wood, which is not to be 
had, and is extremely dear ; a cord of oak wood, bought formerly 
for 20s. now 4;£s. Fort Constitution, or Lee, opposite Fort 
Washington, now Fort Kniphausen, on the Jersey side surrender'd, 
or was left by the rebels ; and the king's troops got soon master 
of this part of the Jerseys, and advanced swiftly towards Philadel- 

Monday, 18///. — In the forenoon, about 11 o'clock, 2 officers, 
with 2 other gentlemen came to see the chapel and house; Bro.' 
Shewkirk showed them about ; one of the officers asked whether 
service was kept in the chapel ; and hearing it was, said, it would 
be a pity to take it ; the other ran about very swiftly, and saw 
every part of the premises. Bro. Shewkirk, who easily could 
guess what the meaning was, as soon as they were gone, made 
implication to the present commanding General Robertson, and to 
Governor Tryon. The former was not at home; the latter re- 


ceived him kindly, but said he could do nothing in the matter, as 
now all the power was lodged with the army ; yet he would recom- 
mend the matter to the General ; and this he did in a few lines 
he wrote under the petition, referring it to the favorable consider- 
ation of the General. 13ro. Shewkirk carried it to him, but he 
was not come home yet, and so he left it there. He did not know 
that the 2000 and more prisoners taken in Fort Washington, had 
come already to town. In the afternoon about 4 o'clock he saw 
at once the street before the window full of people. The serjeant 
of the guard came to the door, and asked whether this was the 
Moravian meeting ? He was order'd to bring these 400 prisoners 
here by command of the Generals Smith and Robertson. If the 
latter had order'd it, it may be it was done before he came home 
to his quarters. Bro. Shewkirk, who was alone in the house, did 
not know what to do ; he could not. go away. Uy and by the 
Major who had command of the prisoners and another man came 
in ; they looked at the Chapel, and said it was too small ; the lat- 
ter said he had told that before, he had been in the place before 
now, and knew it. He spoke to Bro. Shewkirk, and condoled with 
him that the place should be taken ; they began to doubt of the 
certainty, and thought there was a mistake in the matter ; another 
young man of the city who knwos Bro. Shewkirk, and has now the 
care of the provisions for the rebel prisoners, was likewise inclined 
in our favour. These 3 persons went backward and forward to 
make another inquiry ; at last one of them came back and told 
he had met with the Deputy Barrack Master, a Jew ; who had 
told him they must be here. Well — the gate on the men's side 
was open'd. 

The serjeant of the guard, quite a civil man, advised to take all 
loose things out of the chapel before the prisoners came in. This 
was done accordingly. Phil. Sykes, who was come before this 
time, and extremely welcome, while Bro. Shewkirk was alone in 
the house, assisted herein ; as also young Wiley; and it took up 
some time, during which the Major came again, and order'd the 
serjeant to wait awhile longer; he would go to Genl. Robertson. 
After some time he came back, and addressed Bro. Shewkirk in a 
friendly manner ; saying, he had believed they would have been 
a disagreeable company; and took the prisoners to the North 
Church. Bro. Shewkirk thanked the Major for his kindness ; 
may the Lord reward him as also the other two men. The pris- 


oners, with the guard, stood above half an hour in the street be- 
fore our door, and many spectators, of whom none, so far as one 
could see, showed a wish for their coming in, but several signified 
the reverse, and were glad when it did not take place. An old 
gentleman, several weeks after, accosted Bro. Shewkirk in the 
street, and told him how sorry he had been when he saw these 
people standing before our door ; he had heard Bro. Rice, &c. 
After this affair was over, Bro. Shewkirk retreated to this room, 
and thanked our Saviour, with tears, for his visible help ; He has 
the hearts of all men in His hands. If these prisoners had come 
in, how much would our place have been ruined, as one may see 
by the North Church ; not to mention the painful thought of 
seeing a place dedicated to our Savior's praise, made a habitation 
of darkness and uncleanness. Praise be to Him and the Father ! 
As the winter quarters of the soldiers in this city were not 
settled yet, the apprehension was not over, that some would be 
put to us ; and so one of our neighbors thought, who in time of 
peace was one of the Common Council men ; but at the same 
time he assured Bro. Shewkirk that as far as he knew, none of 
the creditable and sensible men of the town, wished it out of 
spite, &c. Bro. Shewkirk's character was well-known, but the 
house was large, and there was want of room. 

Sunday, December is/. — In the afternoon about two o'clock, a 
company of officers came into the House, looking for some quar- 
ter for themselves. It was assured by some that they would not 
disturb our church and service ; some talked but of some rooms ; 
others said they must have the whole house, and the chapel too. 
One, a Cornet of the Light Horse marked one room for himself ; 
desired to clear it this afternoon, and let him have a table and a 
couple of chairs, and he would willingly pay for it. After they 
were gone, Bro. Shewkirk, and Wilson who was just with him, 
went to Genl. Robertson. The Genl. was kind ; he said he had 
given them no orders ; he intended to have no place disturbed 
where service was kept. He took down Bro. Shewkirk's name 
and the matter; which chiefly was, not to disturb our chapel, nor 
to desire the whole house, Bro. Shewkirk offer'd a couple of rooms 
if necessary ; and at last said he would go to Alderman Waddel. 
He was along with the officers in the street, before they came in, 
but told Wilson he had nothing to do with it ; he only upon their 


desire had gone along with them, and hear what lie knew of the 
matter, and they should come along with him. When they were 
on the way, they met one of those officers, (the Genl's clerk) and 
indeed him, who spoke the most imperiously, and that he would 
have the chapel ; upon which the Genl. and they returned to the 
Genl*s house. The officer spoke here quite in another tone and 
said he had already told the other to look out for another place, 
etc. The Genl. said he would sec about the matter, and give an 
answer the next morning. The brethren went home, and Bro. 
Shewkirk held the congregation meeting for which the brethren 
and sisters were gathered together. Upon this occasion we found 
again that our neighbors were not against us. One said, it cannot 
be that they would take your place, the only place where public 
service was held when there was none in the whole city. In the 
evening the room which the Cornet had marked was cleared, in 
case he should come ; but none of them came again. Some time 
after, Dr. Edmunds, belonging to the hospital came one day, and 
with much civility and modesty inquired after a room. .Bro. 
Shewkirk, thinking perhaps it might be a means to be free from a 
further endeavor of somebody's being quartered here, — and more- 
over wishing to have a man in the house in these days, — offered 
him the room the Cornet had marked ; and after some weeks he 
came, and proves a very civil and quiet gentleman, who causes 
little or no troubles. 

Monday 2nd. — The commissioner's extraordinary gracious proc- 
lamation in the name of the King, was published in the public 
papers ; by virtue of which all rebels within 60 days may return 
without suffering any forfeiture or punishment ; and it has had a 
great effect ; numbers are come in, have signed the prescribed 
declaration, availed themselves of the benefit of the proclamation, 
and returned to the peaceable enjoyment of their property ; 
though afterwards some of them have shown their insincerity and 
bad principles, going back again to the rebels. The officers yes- 
terday doubtless thought in a hurry to secure lodgings to them- 
selves before the proclamation was published, as now they can't 
take houses as they please. This was also the answer Genl. 
Robertson gave to Bro. Wilson this morning, when he carried in 
his name, and mentioned again our house and chapel. The Genl. 
said the proclamation would settle these matters. 



Tuesday $isf. — Whereas it is at present very unsafe in the even- 
ings to be out, on account of several late robberies, and persons 
having been knocked down besides, we were obliged to submit to 
the times and circumstances ; and therefore the congregation 
members met at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, and had a love feast ; 
to praise together our dear and gracious Lord for all his goodness 
bestowed on us during this year full of troubles. Indeed these 
times have been a time of shaking, and what had no root is dropped 


Tuesday jth 'January. — Since the attack and defeat which the 
Hessians sustained near Trenton some time ago, the rebels are 
again in high spirits ; and whereas the King's troops have been 
ordered down towards Philadelphia from Newark, and about 
Hackensack, the rebels are come again to these places, and dis- 
tress the inhabitants greatly. Several are come to town, having 
fled from thence. 

Tuesday 14th. — Upon the request of General Howe to lend our 
benches for the entertainment on the Queen's birthday, several 
wagons full were fetched. 

Saturday 18///. — Several reports prevailed that a part of the 
rebel army was approaching this city, and early this morning they 
had made an attack upon a fort above King's Bridge ; but they 
were repulsed. Some of the soldiers here were ordered up that 
way to-day, and all the night soldiers kept a look-out. 

Monday 20th. — It appears from the public papers, that intelli- 
gence has been had of a further intention to destroy this city by 
fire. For this reason the city watch has been regulated anew, 
according to which about 80 men watched every night in the 
different wards. Besides this, some of the Light Horse patrol the 
streets in the night. Some other regulations were likewise pub- 
lished, which give again an aspect of matters coming again into 
some order. The effect has also shown itself, the breaking down 
of fences, &c, docs not go on as it did for a while; the bread is 
larger &c. 


To-day a beginning was made with the inhabitants to take the 
oath of allegiance to his Majesty. Every day 2 wards are taken ; 
it is done before the governor, mayor, &c. 

Thursday dth February. — Our burying ground at Fresh Water, 
(corner of Mott and Tell streets) lies entirely open ; not the least 
of a board or post is left. 

Sunday 16///. — The evening preaching at 6, was on a part of the 
to-day's Epistle : 2 Cor. vi : 1,2; the subject, — " not to receive 
the grace of God in vain." When near the conclusion, another 
cry of fire was heard in the street, so that the last verses could 
not be sung. It happened to be in the Broadway, but was put 
out soon. 

Monday 17/h. — Towards evening there was another alarm of 
fire, but it proved to be a false one, and the engines were ordered 

Thursday 4th March. — In the afternoon was the burial of Dr. 
Autchmuty, Rector of Trinity Church here, who departed this life 
last Tuesday. Bro. Shewkirk was invited, and was one of the 
ministers that were pall-bearers. There was a large company of 
ministers present ; the most of them were ^strangers, partly be- 
longing to the army. He was buried in St. Paul's. The weather 
was bad, raining and snowing, yet there was a great concourse of 
people. Mr. Inglis kept the funeral service. 

Sunday 16/h. — Some wild officers who came into the evening 
meeting disturbed the devotion somewhat ; however they went 
away soon ; the auditory was pretty large and attentive. 

Tuesday 18///. — We have had fine weather of late. On Sunday 
night about 100 of the rebels being in a house somewhere above 
King's Bridge, some of the King's troops went to take them 
prisoners ; and as soon as they saw and heard nothing of an 
opposition, they surrounded the house, and the Captain and some 
men went in ; but some of the rebels took up their guns, and 
killed the captain, and 4 or 5 men ; upon which the others rushed 
in with their fixed bayonets, killed about 40, and took the rest 
prisoners. In the Jerseys some fightings have likewise been within 
these days. 


Wednesday 29/// May. — The King's troops are preparing for the 
campaign, and to leave the town and winter quarters. The day 
before yesterday some of the fleet with fresh troops from home 
arrived, and yesterday a large number of troops came in from 
King's Bridge to embark. 

Saturday 31st. — As many troops are come in, some were lodged 
in the North Church opposite us, who made a great wild noise. 
They were of the recruits that are come from England. Others 
were lodged in the Methodist meeting, and in the old Dutch 
church, &c. 

Tuesday 3rd June. — The packet came in, as also more troops ; 
but we got no letter. ., . 

Wednesday 4//1, — At neon a salute was given from all the ships 
in the river, this being His Majesty's birthday. In the evening 
meeting we blessed our dear king; afterwards the front of our 
house was illuminated with 48 candles, and made a fine sight to 
the satisfaction of the beholders. To-day our Sister Len. Venema 
came back out of the country to our joy. 

Thursday $th. — In these days the troops were moving, and 
everything was in an emotion ; and on 

Friday 6th. — Many went away into the Jerseys ; more of the 
German troops were arrived. 

Wednesday 2$ih. — An account had come to town within these 
days, that the intended expedition of the army had not succeeded : 
— finding the rebel army too much entrenched and fortified ; and 
therefore they had returned to Amboy ; would leave the Jerseys, 
embark, and go upon another expedition. A good many of the 
army came to town, especially also women and children, so as to 
make the place and streets pretty full again. Several of the Jer- 
sey inhabitants flocked likewise to the city. In the evening the 
xii. chapter of the Hebrews was read, and spoken on. 

Saturday 28///. — Since Thursday, a report prevailed that there 
had been a smart battle in the Jerseys. After the King's troops 
had embarked, and the day was appointed to sail on an expedi- 


lion, the general got intelligence that part of the rebel army was 
come within three miles from Amboy ; upon which the troops 
were ordered back on shore, and march 'd in the night to surround 
the rebels, with whom Washington was, it is said. The reports 
vary much, and were exaggerated exceedingly : 1,100 killed of the 
King's troops ; 5 or 6,000 of the rebels ; as many taken prisoners, 
and their artillery ; Ihey were surrounded with Washington ; that 
they could not escape ; nay, Washington was among the slain ; 
Stirling dead of his wounds ; Genl. Livingston likewise, &c. ; 400 
Pennsylvanians had grounded their arms, and come over to the 
regulars, &c, &c. To-day, the account fell very much, and came 
down to a few hundreds lost on the rebel side ; how many on our 
side, is not said at all. Seventy were taken prisoners, who were, 
together with a couple of field-pieces, brought to town early in the 
morning. Matters go but slow, and cause concern to all disinter- 
ested well-wishers. 

Thursday 3rd July. — The King's army has left the Jerseys, and 
is come back to Staten Island. Many came to town daily ; so 
that it grows quite full again for the present. The rebels have 
now the whole Jerseys again except Powless's Hook ; and we are 
just where we were last year, after the being in possession of N. Y. 
Island. 'Tis very discouraging, may the Lord pity this poor 

[Original in the Archives of the Moravian Church.] 

[No. 38.J 

New York, April y, 1776. 

I have since my last been on Several Excursions in military 
Capacity — That to West Chester County to Guard the Cannon & 
find out the Authors of Spiking them, has probably ere this time 
reached you ; I shall not therefore trouble you with a detail. 

You wish to hear what we are about in New York [ ! 


To be informed, picture to yourself the once flourishing City 
evacuated of most of its Members (especially the fair). Buisiness 
of every kind stagnated — all its streets that lead from the North 
and East Rivers blockaded, and nothing but military opperations 
our Current Employment. 

I have been engaged for near three Weeks with the first inde- 
pendent Battalion on fatigue duty, in erecting a Redoubt round 
the Hospital, which we compleated on the 2 d instant. This, tho' 
you will suppose it did not agree well with the tender Hands & 
delicate Textures of many, was notwithstanding with amazing 
agility and neatness, and laying vanity aside, is generally judged 
to be the best work of the kind in the city; the Hospital round 
which our Works are, is made an Arsenal for Provisions. On 
Bayards Mount now called Montgomerie Mount, as a Monument 
to that great Heroe, who honorably fell supporting freedom's 
cause, there will be a Fortification superior in Strength to any my 
Imagination could ever have conceived. Several hundred Men 
have been daily employed there for upwards of four Weeks. The 
Parapet of the old Battery is raised to a proper Height, with a 
sufficient number of Ambersures — As also the Parapet on the Fort 
Wall. There are two fortifications on T,ong Island opposite this 
City to command the shipping, one on Gou" Island, one at red 
Hook, and the City itself and Suburbs filled with them. Sundays 
we have none of, all Days come alike when [ ] is in quest 
tion. We have Genl* Putnam, Sullivan, Heath, Thompson, & L d 
Sterling among us, with I believe about 14 Thousand Troops ; 
fresh arrivals from Cambridge Daily. And Washington hourly 
expected with many more — On Sunday the 7 lb instant there was 
an Exchange of many shot between our Rifle Men on Staten 
Island, and the Man of War, who sent Barges there for Water, 
of which the Riflemen prevented their supplying themselves — We 
know of four of their Men being killed, nine wounded, and have 
12 Prisoners. OurCom y now Guards the Records of the Province 
which are removed to Mr. N. Bayards Farm 

[Hist. Mag., Second Scries, vol. v. p. 203. Communicated by Hon. Hamil- 
ton Fish.] 


[No. 39.] 



New York, 28 ,h June, 1776. 
My dear Frienp, 

. . . . You will be in Boston long before this can 
reach you, and will doubtless have heard of the Discovery of the 
greatest and vilest attempt ever made against our country: I 
mean the //<?/, the infernal plot which has been contrived by our 
worst enemies, and which was on the verge of execution: you 
will, I say, undoubtedly have heard of it, but perhaps I may give- 
you a better idea of it than as yet you have obtained. The Mayor 
of York with a number of villains who were possessed of fortunes,. 
and who formerly ranked with Gentlemen, had impiously dared 
an undertaking, big with fatal consequences to the virtuous army 
in York, and which in all probability would have given the enemy 
possession of the city with little loss. Their design was, upon the 
first engagement which took place, to have murdered (with trem- 
bling I say it) the best man on earth: Gen 1 * Washington was to 
have been the first subject of their unheard of Sacricide: our 
magazines which, as you know, are very capacious, were to have 
been blown up : every General Officer and every other who was 
active in serving his country in the field was to have been assas- 
sinated : our cannon were to be spiked up : and in shout every 
the most accursed scheme was laid to give us into the hands of the 
enemy, and to ruin us. They had plenty of money, and gave 
large bounties and larger promises to those who were engaged to 
serve their hellish purposes. In order to execute their Design 
upon our General, they had enlisted into their service one or two 
from his Excellency's life-Gttard, who were to have assassinated 
him: knowing that no person could be admitted into the maga- 
zines or among the cannon but those who were of the Artillery 
they have found several in our Regiment vile enough to be con- 
cerned in their diabolical Designs — these were to have blown up 
the Magazines and spiked the cannon. (Tell Homans, one Rotch, 
a fellow he bled for me in Morton's company at N° 1 is taken up. 



with his brother for being concerned.) Their Design was deep, 
long concerted, and wicked to a great Degree. But happily for 
us, it has pleased God to discover it to us in season, and I think 
we are making a right improvement of it (as the good folks say). 
We are hanging them as fast as we find them out. I have just 
now returned from the Execution of one' of the General's Guard : 
he was the first that has been tried : yesterday at 1 1 o'clock he 
received sentence, to-day at n he was hung in presence of the 
whole army. He is a Regular-Deserter .... he appeared 
unaffected and obstinate to the last, except that when the Chap* 
lains took him by the hand under the Gallows and bad him adieu, 
a torrent of tears flowed over his face; but with an indignant 
scornful air he wiped 'em with his hand from his face, • and 
assumed the confident look. You remember General Greene com- 
mands at Long Island; with his last breath the fellow told the 
spectators, that unless Gen 1 Greene was very cautious, the Design 
would as yet be executed on him. 

The trial will go on, and I imagine they will be hung, gentle and 
simple, as fast as the fact is proved upon them. 

That any set of men could be so lost to every virtuous princi- 
ple, and so dead to the feelings of humanity as to conspire against 
the person of so great and good a man as Gen 1 Washington is sur- 
prising; few of our countrymen (as you may well imagine) are 
ooncerned; they are in general foreigners: upwards of 30 were 
concerned, and 'tis said Gov r Tryon is at the bottom •, . 

Our Expedition against the Light house did not succeed; they!, 
command it so well with y° shipping that 'tis thought wise to let it 
stand W. Eustis. 

Monday Morning ytdy 1st. — Since writing the above upwards 
of 100 sail have. arrived: we conclude that the whole fleet is there:, 
for we have counted 140 topsail vessels; some say there are 160: 
people are moving out of York ; and I think we must very soon 
come to action ; the flower of our Reg. is picked for a field fight, 
. which we imagine will take place on long island. Wherever I 
am, whatever I am doing, my best wishes will be for the felicity 
of ray friend. Adieu. Heaven preserve us to meet again. 

.[New England Hist, and Gen. Register, vol. xxiii. p 205.] 

1 Thomas Hickcy. 


[No. 4 a] 

New York, Aug. 2o ,b , 1776. 
Dear Brother, 

I have only time for a hasty letter. Our situation has been such 
this fortnight or more as scarce to admit of writing. We have 
daily expected an action — by which means, if any one was going, 
and we had letters written, orders were so strict for our tarrying 
in camp that we could rarely get leave to go and deliver them. — 
For about 6 or 8 days the enemy have been expected hourly, 
whenever the wind and tide in the least favored. We keep a 
particular look out for them this morning. The place and man- 
ner of attack time must determine. The event we leave to 
Heaven. Thanks to God! we have had time for compleating 
our works and receiving reenforcements. The militia of Connec- 
ticut ordered this way are mostly arrived. Col. [Andrew] Ward's 
Reg 1 has got in. Troops from the Southward are daily coming. 
We hope, under God, to give a good account of the Enemy when- 
ever they choose to make the last appeal. 

Last Friday night, two of our five vessels (a Sloop and a Schooner) 
made an attempt upon the shipping up the River. The night 
was too dark, the wind too slack for the attempt The Schooner 
which was intended for one of the Ships had got by before she 
discovered them; but as Providence would have it, she run 
athwart a bomb-catch which she quickly burned. The Sloop by 
the light of the fire discovered the Phoenix — but rather too late 
— however, she made shift to grapple her, but the wind not 
proving sufficient to bring her close along side or drive the flames 
immediately on board, the Phcenix after much difficulty got her 
clear by cutting her own rigging. Serg 1 Fosdick who commanded 
the above Sloop, and four of his hands, were of my Company, the 
remaining two were of this Reg 1 . 

The Gen 1 has been pleased to reward their bravery with forty 
dollars each, except the last man who quitted the fire Sloop, who 
had fifty. Those on board the schooner received the same. 


I must write to some of my brothers lest you should not l>e at 
home. Remain 

Your friend and Brother 

N. Hale. 
Mr. Enoch Hale. 

[Life of Captain Nathan Hale, the Martyr-Spy of the American Revolution. 
By I. W. Stuart, Hartford, 1756] 

[No. 41.] 

New York, April 13 1776. 
" If you have any idea of our' situation, you must be solicitous to 
hear from us. When you are informed that New York is deserted 
by its old inhabitants, and filled with soldiers from New England, 
Philadelphia, and Jersey — you will naturally conclude, the Environs 
of it are not very safe from so undisciplined a multitude, as our 
Provincials are represented to be; but I do believe, there are few 
instances of so great a number of men together, with so little 
mischief done by them ; they have all the simplicity of ploughmen in 
their manners, and seem quite strangers to the vices of older soldiers. 
They have been employed in erecting fortifications in every part of 
the town ; and it would make you sorry to see the place so changed : 
the old fort walls, are demolished in part, although that is an advan- 
tage to the Broadway. There is a Battery carried across the street, 
erected partly at Lord Abingdon's expense, for the Fascines, were 
cut out of the wood that belonged to the Warren estate: it was 
beautiful wood— Oliver De Lancey, had been nursing it these forty 
years; it looks in a piteous state now: Mr. D. hoped to have it 
somewhat spared by telling the New England men, who were cut- 
ting it, that a third part belonged to one of the Protesting Lords. 
One of them answered, ' Well, and if he be such a great liberty boy, 
and so great a friend to our country, he will be quite happy that his 
wood, was so happy for our use.' You remember Bayard's Mount 
covered with cedars ? It commanded a prospect exceedingly exten- 
sive ! The top of it is so cut away, that there is room enough for 
a house and garden ; a fortification is there erected as well as round 


the Hospital: — in short, every place that can be employed in that 
way, is or will be, so used. You may recollect a sweet situation 
at Horn's Hook, that Jacob Walton purchased, built an elegant 
house, and greatly and beautifully improved the place; he was 
obliged to quit the place ; the troops took possession, and fortified 
there. Oh, the houses in New York, if you could but see the 
insides of them! Kennedy's house, Mallet's, and the next to it, 
had sue hundred men in them. If the owners ever get possession, 
they must be years in cleaning them. The merchants have raised 
their goods to an enormous price; many articles are scarce indeed; 
and there is quite a hue and cry about pins. Common rum, 6 to 
7 shillings per gallon; poor sugar, 4I a hundred; molasses none; 
cotton 4s per pound." 

[From the Historical Magazine.] 

[No. 42.] 

SEPT. OCT. I776. 


"General Howe finding himself at the head of 21,000 men, in 
high health and fit for action, was determined to begin upon it as 
soon as possible; accordingly a great number of regiments were 
reimbarked on board the transports, and everything prepared for an 
Expedition, so secret, that neither the second in Command at land 
or sea could guess where the blow was to fall. 

Everything being prepared, and the Cannon*' embarked in the 
night of the 21st of September [August], the Rainbow of 50 guns, 
commanded by Sir George Collier, got under weigh, and anchored 
near a strong post of t the 'enemy's, called Denysys, upon Long 
Island, who fled from thence instantly, expecting the man of war 
would level the place to the ground. 

A little after nine, the transports all anchored in Gravesend-bay on 
the southern part of Long Island ; the flat-bottom boats immediately 
landed the troops, and the gallant Lord Howe was present to direct 
the operation. 



The army, when landed, consisted of 18000 men, the rest being 
left upon Staten Island. Lord Cornwallis Commanded one of the 
advance-posts, Gen. Grant another, and Earl Percy had a post of 
difficulty and danger, to which he on all occasions shewe'd himself 
equal. The King's forces lay still, getting ashore Cannon &c. for 3 
or 4 days, and then encamped at Flatbush ; after this they moved 
on in three bodies, and surprised many of the enemy's outposts, and 
killed and took a number of men." 


Oct. 20, 1776. 
" No doubt but before you receive this you'll be informed of the 
King's troops being in possession of New York, to the great satisfac- 
tion of the loyal part of its inhabitants, who have for a long time 
suffered every hardship from a set of tyrants that is possible to be 
conceived; however, they are now rewarded who have withstood 
the traitors, and remained firm to their King. The Howes do all 
that is possible to alleviate the sufferings of a persecuted people, who 
rather than turn rebels have despised death and ruin ; and if it had 
not pleased God to send us death and relief, dreadful would have 
been the consequence to every person that dared to be honest ; how- 
ever, we are now protected in our lives and properties ; and some 
thousands have joined the King's troops; and every time 'they 
attack the rebels they rout them with great loss ; they fly before our 
victorious army on every onset ; and I don't doubt but in a very little 
time this daring rebellion will be crushed. It would before now 
have been the case, had not the Americans been fed with hopes from 
the Court of France. But now let France or any other Power dare 
to assist them, we are prepared, and don't at all fear but we shall be 
able to give them a proper reception. It is resolved to attack Wash- 
ington directly. Proper dispositions are making for that purpose ; 
and I hope by the next letter to give you an account of an end 
being put to a government that have dared to call themselves the 
Independent States of America. Almost all the New Yorkers have 
returned to their allegiance, and there is not a doubt but the other 
Colonies will do the same when they dare declare themselves, and 
be properly supported by government 


There is a broad R put upon every door in New York that is dis- 
affected to government, and examples will be made of its inhabi- 
tants; on the other hand, every person that is well affected to gov- 
ernment finds protection." 


"The following Letter is from an officer of eminence, who was pres- 
ent at the engagement at White Plains, to his friend in Edinburgh : 

Camp at White Plains, 31 Miles fro ~ T iv Krh, N.E. within 
six Miles of Hudson's River ; Nov. 2, 1776. 

" Our whole army, except about 2000 men, left New York Island, 
and on the 12 th of Oct. passed Hell-gates in our fiat boats, and 
landed on a part called Frogs-neck, in Westchester county ; here we 
halted a few days, until provisions were brought to us ; and on the 
18 th we again took to our boats, and passed a creek, in order to 
move this way, and to cut the rebels off from King's-Bridge. On 
our march the 18 th , we had two pretty smart skirmishes, but made 
the provincials give way as fast as we advanced. After marching 
about three miles, we halted to get cannon, provisions, &c. brought 
forward. On the 26 th we marched again by New Rochclle, about 
four miles without opposition, where we halted till the 28 th ; and find- 
ing that the rebels had moved to this place from King's-bridge, we 
followed them, and drove them from hill to hill, until we came 
within three quarters of a mile of their entrenched camp, where they 
made a shew of disputing a commanding ground. A brisk Cannon- 
ade ensued, and we attacked them on the top of a rugged hill, 
where, though covered behind stone walls and fences, we drove them 
off. We had about 200 killed and wounded. The rebels left about 
50 killed, besides what they carried off. We then encamped on the 
ground, with an intent to drive them from their entrenchments; but 
yesterday at day-break they went off of themselves and took post on 
another hill, about three-quarters of a mile further on where they 
are now. They have left a post behind them in New York Island, 
near King's-bridge of about 1500 men, [Fort Washington] which, I 
think, we shall give a very good account of. We have taken in their 


abandoned works 74 pieces of cannon. Their whole force is now 
opposed to us. They burn all the country as they retreat ; they are 
a set of base fellows. I do not imagine we shall go much further 
this campaign, but just force them to go towards New England. I 
heard from Col. Campbell the other day. He is well and anxious 
to be relieved. I write on my knee very cramped, and have lain in 
a waggon for three nights past, one of which was very wet." 

[No. 43.] 



The 31st of March 1776, 1 received General Washington's orders 
" to march to New York by the way of Providence, to afford Gov- 
ernor Cooke my best advice and assistance in the construction of the 
work there." In this tour I went to visit Newport again, where I 
laid out some additional works ; on my return from Newport to 
Providence I met with General Washington there, I believe the 6th 
of April, and obtained leave to go by Brookfield to New York. I 
believe I tarried with my family part of two days and then pushed 
for New York where I arrived about the 20th. On my arrival at 
New York I was charged as chief engineer with laying out and over- 
seeing the works which were ^erected during the campaign at New 
York, Long Island and their dependencies with Fort Washington, 
Fort Lee, King's Bridge, etc., most of which, but not all, appear in 
a plan of New York island etc., and obstructions in the river, which 
accompanies Marshall's Life of Washington. This was a service of 
much fatigue, for my whole time was taken up from daylight in the 
morning until night in the business, besides sometimes going in the 
night by water from New York to Fort Washington. 

September 8th 1776, a council of general officers had determined 
on holding the City of New York. See General Washington's letter 
of that date. On the 12th of September having been out with Gen- 
eral Miflin, by order of General Washington, to reconnoiter the 

• Washington's Chief Engineer in 1776. 



country between Kingsbridge and Morrisania and eastward, on our 
return we met with General Washington near Harlem Heights, where 
we made our report to him, in consequence of which a council of 
general officers was convened, whose advice was the withdrawing the 
army from the city, — see the General's letter of the 14th of Septem- 
ber, — and this measure was the salvation of the army, and which 
probably would not have been but for the discoveries made by Mif- 
flin and myself. 

My being appointed engineer by Congress was wholly unexpected. 
I had begun to act in that capacity through pure necessity, and had 
continued to conduct the business more from necessity and respect 
for the General than from any opinion I had of my own abilities, or 
knowledge of that art ; true it is that after my arrival at New York 
I had read some books on fortification, and I knew much more than 
when I began at Roxbury, but I had not the vanity to suppose that 
my knowledge was such as to give me a claim to the first rank in a 
corps of engineers, yet my experience convinced me that such a 
corps was necessary to be established, therefore near the last of Sep- 
tember, I drew up a plan for such an establishment and presented it 
to General Washington, and which he transmitted to Congress — see 
his letter to that body of the 5th of November 1776. In my letter 
to General Washington on the subject I disclaimed all pretension of 
being placed at the head of the proposed corps, and signified it would 
be my choice to serve in the line of the army. 

October 19th 1776, the British landed on Pell's point and some 
skirmishing took place in the afternoon between part of Glover's brig- 
ade and some advance parties of the enemy near East Chester, the 
next morning by order of the General I set out from Kingsbridge to 
reconnoiter their position etc. I set out in company with Col Reed, 
the adjutant-general and a foot guard of about twenty men, when we 
arrived on the heights of East Chester we saw a small body of Brit- 
ish near the church, but we could obtain no intelligence ; the houses 
were deserted. Col Reed now told me he must return to. attend to 
issuing general orders. I observed that we had made no discovery 
yet of any consequence, that if he went back I wished him to take 
the guard back for I chose to go alone. I then disguised my ap- 
pearance as an officer as far as I could, and set out on the road to 
White-plains ; however, I did not then know where White-plains was, 
nor where the road I had taken would carry me. I had gone about 


two and a half miles when a road turned "off to the right, I followed 
it perhaps half a mile and came to a house where I learned from the 
woman that this road led to New Rochelle, that the British were 
there and that they had a guard at a house in sight ; On this infor- 
mation I turned and pursued my route toward White-plains (the 
houses on the way all deserted) until I came within three or four 
miles of the place ; here I discovered a house a little ahead with men 
about it. By my glass I found they were not British soldiers j how- 
ever I approached them with caution. I called for some oats for 
my horse, sat down and heard them chat some little time, when I 
found they were friends to the cause of America, and then I began 
to make the necessary enquiries, and on the whole I found that the 
main body of the British lay near New Rochelle, from thence to 
White-plains about nine miles, good roads and in general level open 
country, that at Whiteplains was a large quantity of stores, with only 
about three hundred militia to guard them, that the British had a 
detachment at Mamaraneck only six] miles from White-plains, and 
from Whiteplains only five miles to the North river, where lay five 
or six of the enemies ships and sloops, tenders, etc. Having made 
these discoveries I set out on my return. The road from Ward's 
across the Brunx was my intended route unless I found the British 
there, which haply they were not, but I saw Americans on the 
heights west of the Brunx who had arrived there after I passed up. 
I found them to be Lord Sterling's division ; it was now after sunset. 
I gave my Lord a short account of my discoveries, took some re- 
freshment, and set off for headquarters by the way of Philip's at the 
mouth of Sawmill river, a road I had never travelled, among tory 
inhabitants and in the night. I dare not enquire the way, but Provi- 
dence conducted me. I arrived at headquarters near Kingsbridge 
(a distance of about ten miles) about nine o'clock at night. I found 
the General alone. I reported to him the discoveries I had made, 
with a sketch of the country ; he complained very feelingly of the 
gentlemen from New York from whom he had never been able to 
obtain a plan of the country, that from their information he had or- 
dered the stores to Whiteplains as a place of security. The General 
sent for General Greene and Gen 1 George Clinton, since Vice-Presi- 
dent of the United States. As soon as General Clinton came in my 
sketch and statement was shown to him and he was asked if the 
situation of those places was as 1 had reported. Gen 1 Clinton said 
it was. 


I had but a short time to refresh myself and horse when I received 
a letter from the General with orders to proceed immediately to 
Lord Sterling's, and I arrived at his quarters about two o'clock in 
the morning October 21st 1776. Lord Sterling's division marched 
before daylight and we arrived at Whiteplains about 9 o'clock a.m. 
and thus was the American army saved (by an interposing providence 
from a probable total destruction.). I may be asked wherein this 
particular interposition of providence appears, I answer, first, in the 
stupidity of the British general, in that he did not early on the morn- 
ing of the 20th send a detachment and take possession of the post 
and stores at Whiteplains, for had he done this we must then have 
fought him on his own terms, and such disadvantageous terms on 
our part, as humanly speaking must have proved our overthrow; 
again when I parted with Col Reed on the 20th as before mention- 
ed, I have always thought that I was moved to so hazardous an un- 
dertaking by foreign influence. On my route I was liable to meet 
with some British or tory parties, who probably would have made 
me a prisoner (as I had no knowledge of any way of escape across 
the Brunx but the one I came out). / Hence I was induced to dis- 
guise myself by taking out my cockade, loping my hat and secret- 
ing my sword and pistols under my loose coat, and then had I been 
taken under this disguise, the probability is that I should have been 
hanged for a spy. 

October 29th, the British advanced in front of our lines at White- 
plains about 10 o'clock a.m., I had just arrived on Chatterton hill 
in order to throw up some works when they hove in sight, as soon 
as they discovered us they commenced a severe cannonade but 
without any effect of consequence. General McDougal about this 
time arriving with his brigade from Burtis's and observing the British 
to be crossing the Brunx below in large bodies in order to attack us, 
our troops were posted to receive them in a very advantageous posi- 
tion. The British in their advance were twice repulsed; at length 
however their numbers were increased so that they were able to turn 
our right flank. We lost many men but from information afterwards 
received there was reason to believe they lost many more than we. 
The rail and stone fence behind which our troops were posted proved 
as fatal to the British as the rail fence and grass hung on it did at 
Charlestown the 17th of June 1775. 

After the affair of the 29th of October my time was employed in 


examining the nature of the country in a military point of view in our 
rear towards North Castle, Croton river, etc., until about the 5th 
of November when I received the following order from the General 
which I shall take the liberty to transcribe. 

Headquarters Whiteplains, November 5th 1776. 

Sir : — You are directed to repair to Wright's mills and layout any 
work there you conceive to be necessary, in case it is not already 
done, from thence you are to proceed towards Croton bridge, and 
post the two regiments of militia in the most advantageous manner, 
so as to obstruct the enemies passage to that quarter, you are also 
to give what directions you think are proper to those regiments, re- 
specting the breaking up the roads leading from the North river east- 
ward, after this you are to go up to Peekskill and direct Lasher's de- 
tachment to break up the roads there. You are likewise to lay out 
what works will be advisable there and order them to be set about 

Given under my hand — 

G°. Washington. ' 
To Col Putnam, Engineer. 

November nth 1776, Gen 1 Washington came to Peekskill and 
I went with him to visit Fort Montgomery, on the same day or the 
next he crossed the North river, leaving instructions with me to as- 
certain the geography of the country with the roads and passes 
through and about the highlands, a report of which I afterwards 
made with a sketch of a plan. 

December 8th 1776, I wrote to Gen 1 Washington informing him 
that I had accepted of a regiment in the Massachusetts line of the 
Continental army, with my reasons for so doing, assuring him at the 
same time of my attachment to him and readiness to execute any 

[Original in the archives of Marietta College, Marietta, Ohio.] 


[No. 44 .] 



[Colonel Little's Order Book] 


New York, Sept. 8 lh . 
All the guards in the posts are to be continued as large as at any 
time, & be very vigilant & alert. All the Reg" are to lie on their 
arms this night & be ready to turn out at the shortest notice, as it is 
not improbable we may be speedily attacked. Gen. Wadsworth to 
send an adjutant to Head Quarters tomorrow for orders. 

Sept. 9 ,k . 
Guard same as this day & fatigues. The several Brigades in this 
Division are to lodge on their arms this night & be ready to turn out 
on the shortest notice. Cols. &c are to take particular care of the 
arms & ammunition. Col. Chester to send an adjutant to Head 
Quarters for orders. 


New York Sept 9 ,b . 
A serjeant, Corporal & 12 men daily to mount as a guard at Gen. 
Nixon's quarters. Officers of guard in the night are to send visiting 
rounds between every relief. Complaints are made that orders are 
not made known to soldiers. The General expressly enjoins that the 
adjutant see that the orders are daily read to the several regiments, 
that the soldiers may not plead ignorance thereof. 

Sept. io ,h . 
The Gen. desires officers not to suffer their men to straggle as 
we may expect a sudden attack, when one is made. The Gen 1 de- 
sires all the officers to lodge in camp, as in the critical situation of 
affairs, much depends on their vigilance. 


Fort Constitution Sept. so" 1 . 
Major Box is appointed & requested in conjunction with the 
Engineers of this Department & Col. Bull to oversee & forward the 






fortifications at Fort Constitution. Lt. Col. Cornell is appointed 
Dep. Assistant Adj. Gen 1 , for this Division. The Q r . MT Gen 1 is' 
directed to provide tools of all kinds necessary for a Blacksmith's & \ 
Armorer's shop, large enough to do the business of this part of the 
army. Many trangressions of gen 1 orders happen for want of their 
being read & explained to the men. The Gen 1 directs that all 
orders issued be read to the men in Reg u or Companies, & that 
every Captain provide himself with an orderly book that the men 
may be fully informed of their duty. The adj t8 of regiments are to 
report any neglect. 

Oct. 2 4 . 
The Brig", or officers commanding Brigades are requested to 
send the Brig d0 Majors^ or some other proper officers to fetch the 
new regulations of the army, & distribute them among the Reg u of 
their Brigades & the C. officers of each reg 1 or corps are directed 
to have them read — to have the rules & regulations read first to the 
whole regiment drawn up for that purpose & then order the Cap- 
tains to read them again to each of their companies the day after 
they have been read to the reg 1 ' — to be continued the first Monday; 
in every month. Lt Mills of Col. Hitchcock's Reg 1 is requested to 
collect a party of carpenters from either of the Brigades, reg u or 
corps in this Division of the army, that are willing to enter the 
work for the same pay, that was allowed last campaign. Officers 
for the day. Major Bailey — for fatigue Major Bartholomew. 

Oct 4 th . 
A guard to mount to-morrow at 8 a.m. to relieve the guard over 
Hackensack River — to take 3 days provision with them. Officers 
for the Day L l Col. Crary — for fatigue L l Col. Culbertson. 

Oct. 6 th . 
The Post to be carried out at any time when he arrives, night or 
day. No person under guard in the main guard to be released 
without permission from the guard. A fatigue party of 400 to com- 
plete the fortifications at Fort Constitution — Cols. Durkee's, Brad- 
ley's, Rolling's & William's Reg 1 ", to form a brigade under Gen 1 
Roberdeau, until his Excellency's pleasure be further known. The 
D. Adj 1 . Gen 1 is directed to appoint a grand parade, where all guards 
for different posts are to parade. 

Oct. 7 th . 
A guard of 50 men to relieve the guard at Hoebuck's Ferry 


immediately, to take 4 days provisions. The commanding officers 
of Regts — in the English neighborhood are to take care that none 
of the rails are burnt in their Reg 1 ' for fire wood. Reg" are to be 
furnished with firewood daily, apply to Q M. Gen 1 for teams. A 
sub. & 30 men to go immediately for the stock brought from Bergen. 

Oc«. 8 th . 
Application for leave of absence from camp for a short time on 
the occasional business of the regt. is to be made to the Brig r Gen 1 
or the commanding officers of Brigade — Brig" are desired not to 
grant liberty of absence unless on real business. The houses upon 
the waterside, near the ferry are to be cleared of the present inhabi- 
tants for the use of the guards & ferrymen. A cap. & 40 men well 
acquainted with rowing to be drawn for the management of the 
ferryboats. This party to be excused from other duty & to be con- 
tinued in that employ. All the Axes in the different reg 1 ' are to be 
delivered to the Q. M. Gen 1 Col. Biddle, & he is to deliver an 
equal proportion to the Reg u retaining enough for the Public 
works. Cap. Olney of Col. Hitchcock's Reg' & Cap. Warner of 
Col. Little's are appointed to assist in overseeing the fortifications & 
are . to be excused from all other duty. Commanding officers of 
Reg" are requested to fix upon proper places for Barracks, none to 
be nearer the fort than 50 rods. The Gen 1 desires com* officers to 
divide the reg u into messes of 8 men. The men must build tim- 
ber huts, as boards are not to be had. Boards are to be had only 
for the roof. The huts are to be 12 feet -long by 9 wide, to have 
stone chimneys & to be ranged in proper streets. The guard at the 
Bridge to be relieved immediately. The Cap. of the Artillery is 
directed to examine the state of the amunition in the magazine & 
report to the D. A*. Q r . The Gen' directs that none of the troops 
go out of drum call, without liberty from the Corn* officer of the 
reg 1 . The rolls of companies are to be called 4 times a day. Men 
not to be found when the reg u arc called to parade may cxpectrfto 
be severely punished & the officers if negligent of their duty are to be 
arrested — Adjutant Colman is appointed to do the duty of Brigade 
Major for Gen 1 Nixon's Brigade while Major Box is employed on 
the Fortifications. 

Oct. I3 l \ 
Gen. Nixon's & Gen. Robcrdcau's Brigade arc to draw & cook 
themselves 3 days provisions immediately. The guard to be re- 



lieved from Col. Ewing's Brigade, the guards at Bergen to be ex- 
cepted. The other two Brigades to hold themselves in readiness to 
march at a moment's warning. Cap. Spurr from Col. Hitchcock's 
reg' is to oversee fatigue parties employed on Fortifications. The 
Com" is desired to kill all the fat cattle brought from Bergen, that 
the inhabitants don't claim — take an account of all the marks & 
numbers & have their value estimated by 2 or 3 good men. The 
sheep that are fit are to be killed for the use of the Army. An exact 
account of their number & marks and value is to be kept. The 
Q r . M. Gen. is directed to take all horses brought from Bergen & 
not claimed & to employ such as are fit in the service ; the rest to . 
be disposed of at Public Vendue. Lest any should be injured that 
cannot claim his property, a record is to be kept describing the 
natural & artificial marks & the value of each. 


Fort Constitution Oct. X3 U . 
It is Gen. Greene's orders that my Brigade move over the Ferry 
immediately. The regiments to leave a careful officer & 12 men 
each to bring forward their baggage to King's Bridge, who is to take 
care that none of it be left behind or lost. When the Reg u are over 
the ferry, they will march to M l Washington & remain there till 
further orders— You will hurry the march as fast as possible, as they 
must cross the ferry this night — 

J"° Nixon B. G. 
To Dudley Colman, A.B.M. 

East Chester Oct. i6 ,h . 
The several reg u in this Brigade are to draw 4 days provision & 
have it cooked immediately. The Q. M. will apply to the assistant 
Q. M. Gen 1 for carriages to transport their provisions. Col. Var- 
num's Reg 1 to relieve Col. Nixon's at Froggs Point this p.m. 

Oct. i6 lh . 
Sir — You are to order Col. Varnum's reg 1 to march immediately 
to Froggs Neck to relieve Col. Ritzema's or Col. Malcolm's reg' 
(which of the two you find there not relieved). You will get a 
pilot from Col. Nixon's reg 1 to direct them thither. 

J"°. Nixon, B. G. 
To Dudly Colman, Brigade Major. 


Miles Square, East Chester Oct. iS" 1 . 
Sir — You will have a working party of 300 men & officers ready 
to go to work as soon as the tools arrive, which I have sent for & 
you will see that suitable guards are mounted by each regiment. 

J"°. Nixon, B. Gen. 
To D. Colman,'B. Major. 


Miles Square, Oct. I9 ,h . 
Gen. Lee returns his warmest thanks to Col. Glover, and the 
Brigade under his command, not only for his gallant behavior 
yesterday, but for their prudent, cool, orderly & soldier like con- 
duct in all respects. He assures these brave men that he shall omit 
no opportunity of showing his gratitude. The wounded are to be 
immediately sent to Valentines Hill at the second Liberty pole where 
surgeons should at once repair to dress their wounds. They are 
afterwards to be forwarded to Fort Washington, 

[No. 4S-] » 

Camp [Morristown ?] Dcc r : 7 th 1776. 

You are to proceed from hence to a certain mill about -8 miles 
distant where you are to take Post in the most advantageous manner 
possible, with half your Party, and remain yourself: The other half 
you are to detach under the most understanding, cool officer you 
can select. He is to proceed to Harrington Township, where they 
are to collect, all the serviceable horses, all the spare Blankets (that 
is to leave a sufficient number to cover the People) they are to col- 
lect any spare shoes, great Coats, to serve as Watch Coats — The 
People from whom they are taken are not to be insulted ; either by 
actions or language ; but told that the urgent necessity of the Troop, 
obliges us to the Measure — That unless we adopt it, their liberties 
must Perish — That they must make an Estimate, of what is taken 
and the Publick shall pay them — The officer who commands the 


Party detach'd, above all, must take care to advance a Party, to 
look out, on the Road of Hackinsack in the Front of the Party who 
are collecting, that they may not be surprised, whilst they are thus 
occupied — A Canadian and Mons r : Vernajou will conduct you; 
when the whole is finished, you are to march by another Road to 
Morristown : By a Road which will be indicated : you are not to 
suffer any Country People to pass by you, who might inform the 
Enemy of your motions — if the Collecting Party should be attacked, 
they will naturally return (but in good order to your Post — the horses 
and necessaries collected are to be brought up to Morris Town and 
then be disposed of by the General — 

Charles Lee, Major-General, 
Colonel Chester. 

[Original in possession of Rev. Dr. John Chester, Washington, D. C] 

[No. 46.] 


" Gen. Lee had advanced with his Division to Baskenridge, about 
twenty-two miles from the Enemy's advanced Guards, where they 
lodged the night of Dec. 12 th , Gen. Sullivan being with the body of 
the Division, & Gen. Lee in the Rear, or on the flank of the rear 
about 2 Miles from the body, having with him only his aid-de-camp, 
Mr. Bradford, a Major with an express from Gen. Gates, a French 
Colonel, a French Captain, the latter in our service, the former just 
from Paris by the way of Dartmouth in Mass. with dispatches for 
Congress, & perhaps a dozen guards. The house was surrounded 
on one side with a wood, on the other an orchard. The Gen. had 
just sent forward Gen. Sullivan, who marched with the Division 
about 8 o'clock in the morning, tarrying himself to finish dispatches 
to Gen. Gates, which having just done, dressed & sent for his 
horses, was ready to mount, & would have been gone in 5 or 

1 Capt. Bradford, of Rhode Island, was Aidc-de-Camp to General Lee 
at the time of the latter's capture, and gave this account of the affair to the 
Rev. Dr. Stiles, then at Dighton, R. I. 


10 minutes, when about 10 o'clock they were surprised with about 
50 horse, which came on the house from the wood & orchard at 
once & surrounding fired upon it. The French Col. escaped & 
was pursued & overtaken. Gen. Lee looked out of the window to 
see how )the ' guards behaved, & saw the enemy twice with his 
hanger cut off the arm of one of the Guards crying for quarter — the 
guard behaved well, fired at first, but were rushed upon & subdued. 
The Gen. sees then that they must submit, & after walking the 
chamber perhaps 10 or 15 minutes, told his aid-de-camp to go 
down & tell them Gen. Lee submitted. Mr. Bradford went to the 
door & on opening it a whole volley of shot came in the door — he 
spoke loud & opened again & delivered his orders. Gen. Lee 
came forward & surrendered himself a prisoner of war, saying he 
trusted they would use him like a gentleman. Of this one of them 
gave assurance & ordered him instantly to mount He requested 
His Hat & Cloke and Mr. Bradford went in to fetch it, but chang- 
ing his clothes on his return they did not know him from a servant 
& laying down the General's Hat and Cloke he escaped back into 
the house. They immediately rode back in triumph with the 

[From the Stiles MS. Diary, Yale College Library.] 


[No. 47-] 



Philadelphia 1 December 13 1776 
Mv dear Spouse 

The 11 th in the Evening a Detachment of the Enemy took pos- 
session of Burlington, about 20 miles from this City on the Jersey 
shore. The Rest of their Army are at Trenton, and upon the Banks 
of the River above it; their numbers are uncertain, but are computed 
about twelve thousand, and as their Designs, are undoubtedly to gain 
Possession of this City, the Congress, upon the advice of Genl' 
Putnam and Mifflin (who are now here to provide for the Protection 

1 Gen. Wolcott, at this date, was a delegate in Congress from Connecticut 


of the Thee,) as well as the Result of their own Opinion, have ad- 
journed themselves to Baltimore in Maryland, about no miles from 
this City, as it was judged, that the Council of America, ought not to 
sit in a Place liable to be interrupted by the rude Disorder of Arms, 
so that I am at this moment, going forward for that place. 'Whether 
the Army will succeed in their cruel Designs against this City, must 
be left to time to discover. Congress have ordered the General to 
defend it to the last extremity, and^God grant that he may be success- 
ful in his Exertions. 

Whatever Event may take place, the American Cause will be sup- 
ported to the last, and I trust in God that it will succeed. The Gre- 
cian, Roman and Dutch States were in their Infancy reduced to the 
greatest Distress, infinitely beyond what we have yet experienced. 
The God who governs the Universe and who holds Empires in His 
Hand, can with the least Effort of His Will,' grant us all that Security 
Opulence and Power which they have enjoyed. 

The present scene it is true appears somewhat gloomy, but the na- 
tural or more obvious cause seems to be owing to the term of enlist- 
ment of the Army having expired. I hope we may have a \nost 
respectable one before long established. The business of war is the 
result of Experience. 

It is probable that France before long will involve Great Britain in 
a war who by unhappy Experience may learn the Folly of attempt- 
ing to enslave a People who by the ties] of Consanguinity and Affec- 
tion ever were desirous of promoting her truest Happiness. 

Gen. Howe has lately published a Proclamation abusing the Con- 
gress as having sinister Designs upon the People and has offered to 
such as will accept of Pardon upon an unlimited Submission, " Royal 
Forgiveness." But who is base enough to wish to have a precarious 
Care dependent upon the caprice of Power, unrestrained by any Law 
and governed by the dangerous thirst of Avarice and Ambition ? 

My best love to my children and friends. May the Almighty ever 
have you and them in his protection 

yours with the most 

Inviolable affection 

Oliver Wolcott. 
To Mrs. Laura Wolcott 


[Original in possession of Frederick H. Wolcott, Esq., Astoria, L. I.] 





[No. 48.] 


Trenton, Jany r\ 1777. 
Dear Sir : 

Have but a moment which shall embrace with Pleasure to inform 
you of the present State of our Army and our late Success. After 
we had recruited a few days of a fatiguing March of more than 250 
Miles (thro' all our Windings) Genl. Washington gave orders for us 
to be every way equiped for Action. On the Evening of the 25 th 
Ult. we were ordered to March to a ferry [McConkey's] about twelve 
Miles from Trenton, where was stationed near two Thousand 
Hessians. As violent a Storm ensued of Hail & Snow as I ever 
felt. The Artillery and Infantry all were Across the Ferry about 
twelve O'clock, consisting of only twenty one hundred principally 
New England Troops. In this Violent Storm we. marched on for 
Trenton. Before Light in the Morning we gained all the Roads 
leading from Trenton. The Genl. gave orders that every Officer's 
Watch should be set by his, and the Moment of Attack was fixed. 
Just after Light, we came to their out Guard, which fired upon us 
and retreated. The first Sound of the Musquetry and Retreat of the 
Guards animated the Men and they pushed on with Resolution and 
Firmness. Happily the fire begun on every Side at the same instant, 
their Main body had just Time to form when there ensued a heavy 
Cannonade from our Field Pieces and a fine brisk and lively fire from 
our Infantry. This continued but a Short Time before the Enemy 
finding themselves flanked on every Side laid down their Arms. 
The Resolution and Bravery of our Men, their Order and Regu- 
lariety gave me the highest Sensation of Pleasure. Genl. Washington 
highly congratulated the Men on next day in Genl. Orders, and with 
Pleasure observed, that he had been in Many Actions before, but 



always perceived some Misbehaviour in some individuals, but in that 
Action he saw none. Pennsylvania itself is obliged to acknowledge 
the Bravery of New Eng'd Troops. I have a List from Head 
Quarters of the Killed and taken, which was taken the day after the 
Action, since which many more have been brought in : i Col. 
wounded since dead, 2 Lieut Col 8 , taken, 3 Majors, 4 Capts. 
8 Lieuts., 12 Ens'ns, 92 Serj'ts, 9 Musicians, 12 Drums, 25 Servants, 
842 Privates, 2 Capt's Killed, 2 Lieuts. killed 50 privates Six Brass 
Field Pieces, One Mortar, and about 1500 Stand of Arms. A large 
Number of Horses and a vast Quantity of Plunder of every kind. 
And this, Sir, I will assure you with only the Loss of six or seven on 
our side, this is no Exaggeration but simple fact, 'tis impossible to 
describe the scene to you as it appeared. We immediately retreated 
across the River and did not get to our Tents till next Morning — two 
Nights and one day in as violent a Storm as I ever felt. What can't 
Men do when engaged in so noble a Cause. Our Men's Time 
Expired Yesterday, they have generally engaged to tarry six weeks 
longer. My company almost to a man. Orders have now come for 
us to march for Princetown. We have a Rumor that it was burned 
last night by the Enemy, who we suppose are about retreating. 
Compliments to Miss Adams & Children. Adieu and believe me 
to be sincerely yours, k 

Wm. Hull. -_. 

[Ltgacy of Historical Gleanings. By Mrs. C. V. R. Bonncy. Vol. I., p. 57* 
Munsell, Albany. 1875.] 

[No. 49] 

Delaware River, near Trenton, 
Dec. 28, 1776, near 12 o'clock. 

Trenton is an open town, situated nearly on the banks 

of the Delaware, accessible on all sides. Our army was scattered 
along the river for nearly twenty-five miles. Our intelligence agreed 
that the force of the enemy in Trenton was from two to three thou- 
sand, with about six field cannon, and that they were pretty secure in 
their situation, and that they were Hessians — no British troops. A 


hardy design was formed of attacking the town by storm. Accord- 
ingly a part of the army, consisting of about 2,500 or 3,000, passed 
the river on Christmas night, with almost infinite difficulty, with eigh- 
teen field-pieces. The floating ice in the river made the labor almost 
incredible. However, perseverance accomplished what at first seem- 
ed impossible. About two o'clock the troops were all on the Jersey 
side ; we then were about nine miles from the object. The night 
was cold and stormy; it hailed with great violence; the troops 
marched with the most profound silence and good order. They ar- 
rived by two routes at the same time, about half an hour after day- 
light, within one mile of the town. The storm continued with great 
violence, but was in our backs, and consequently in the faces of our 
enemy. About half a mile from the town was an advanced guard 
on each road, consisting of a captains guard. These we forced, and 
entered the town with them pell-mell ; and here succeeded a scene 
of war of which I had often conceived, but never saw before. The 
hurry, fright, and confusion of the enemy was [not] unlike that which 
will be when the last trump shall sound. They endeavored to form 
in streets, the heads of which we had previously the possession of 
with cannon and howitzers ; these, in the twinkling of an eye, cleared 
the streets. The backs of the houses were resorted to for shelter. 
These proved ineffectual ; the musketry soon dislodged them. Fin- 
ally they were driven through the town into ah open plain beyond. 
Here they formed in an instant. During the contest in the streets mea- 
sures were taken for putting an entire stop to their retreat by posting 
troops and cannon in such passes and roads as it was possible for 
them to get away by. The poor fellows after they were formed on the 
plain saw themselves completely surrounded, the only resource left 
was to force their way^hrough numbers unknown to them. The 
Hessians lost part of their cannon in the town ; they did not relish 
the project of forcing, and were obliged to surrender upon the spot, 
with all their artillery, six brass pieces, army colors, &c. A Colonel 
Rawle commanded, who was wounded. The number of prisoners 
was above 1,200, including officers, — all Hessians. There were few 
killed or wounded on either side. After having marched off the 
prisoners and secured the cannon, stores, &c, we returned to the place, 
nine miles distant, where we had embarked. Providence seemed to 
have smiled upon every part of this enterprise. Great advantages 
may be gained from it if we take the proper steps. At another post 
we have pushed over the river 2,000 men, to-day another body, and 


to-morrow the whole army will follow. It must give a sensible plea- 
sure to every friend of the rights of man to think with how much in- 
trepidity our people pushed the enemy, and prevented their forming 
in the town. 

His Excellency the General has done me the unmerited great 
honor of thanking me in public orders in terms strong and polite. 
This I should blush to mention to any other than to you, my dear 
Lucy ; and I am fearful that even my Lucy may think her Harry 
possesses a species of little vanity in doing [it] at all. 

Morristown Jan. 7 1777. 

I wrote to you from Trenton by a Mr. Fumess which I hope you 
have received. I then informed you that we soon expected another 
tussle. I was not out in my conjecture. About three o'clock on the 
second of January, a column of the enemy attacked a party of ours 
which was stationed one mile above Trenton. Our party was small 
and did not make much resistance. The enemy, who were Hessians, 
entered the town pell-mell pretty much in the same manner that we 
had driven them a few days before. $ 

Nearly on the other side of Trenton, partly in the town, runs a 
brook [the Assanpink], which in most places is not fordable, and over 
which through Trenton is a bridge. The ground on the other side 
is much higher than on this, and may be said to command Trenton 
completely. Here it was our army drew up with thirty or forty pieces 
in front. The enemy pushed our small party through the town with 
vigor, though not with much loss. Their retreat over the bridge was 
thoroughly secured by the artillery. After they had retired over the 
bridge, the enemy advanced within reach of our cannon, who saluted 
them with great vociferation and some execution. This continued 
till dark when of course it ceased, except a few shells which we now 
and then chucked into town to prevent their enjoying their new 
quarters securely. As I before mentioned, the creek was in our front, 
our left on the Delaware, our right in a wood parallel to the creek. 
The situation was strong, to be sure ; but hazardous on this account, 
that had our right wing been defeated, the defeat of the left would 
almost have been an inevitable consequence, and the whole thrown 
into confusion or pushed into the Delaware, as it was impassable by 

From these circumstances the general thought best to attack 


Princeton, twelve miles in the rear of the enemy's grand army, and 
where they had the 17th, 40th, and 55th regiments, with a number 
of draughts, altogether perhaps twelve hundred men. Accordingly 
about one o'clock at night we began to march and make this most 
extra mancevre. Our troops marched with great silence and order, 
and arrived near Princeton a little after daybreak. We did not sur- 
prise them as at Trenton ; for they were on their march down to Tren- 
ton, on a road about a quarter of a mile distant from that in which 
we were. You may judge of their surprise when they saw such large 
columns marching up. They could not possibly suppose it was our 
army, for that they took for granted was cooped up near Trenton. 
They could not possibly suppose it was their own army returning by 
a back road ; in short, I believe they were as much astonished as if 
an army had dropped perpendicularly upon them. However they 
had not much time for consideration. We pushed a party to attack 
them. This they repulsed with great spirit, and advanced upon an- 
other column just then coming out of a wood, which they likewise put 
in some disorder; but fresh troops coming up, and the artillery be- 
ginning to play, they were after a smart resistance put totally to the 
rout The 18th regiment used their bayonets with too much severity 
upon a party they put to flight ; but they were paid for it in propor- 
tion, very few escaping. Near sixty were killed on the spot besides 
the wounded. We have taken between three and four hundred pris- 
oners, all British troops. They must have] lost. in this affair nearly 
five hundred killed, wounded, and prisoners. We lost some gallant 
officers. Brigadier-General Mercer was wounded: he had three 
separate stabs with a bayonet. A Lieutenant-Colonel Fleming was 
killed, and Captain Neil of the artillery an excellent officer. Mercer 
will get better. The enemy took his parole after we left Princeton. 
We took all their cannon, which consisted of two brass six-pounders, 
a considerable amount of military stores, blankets, guns, &c. They 
lost, among a number of other officers, a Captain Leslie, a son of the 
Earl of Leven and nephew to General Leslie : him we brought oft 
and buried with honors of war. 

After we had been about two hours at Princeton, word was brought 
that the enemy was advancing from Trenton. This they did, as we 
have since been informed, in a most infernal sweat, — running, puff- 
ing, and blowing, and swearing at being so outwitted. As we had 
other objects in view, to wit, breaking up their quarters, we pursued 
our march to Somerset Court House, where there were about thir- 


teen hundred quartered, as we had been informed. They, however, 
had marched off, and joined the army at Trenton. We at first 
intended to have made a forced march to Brunswick ; but our men 
having been without rest, rum, or provisions for two nights and days 
were unequal to the task of marching seventeen miles further. If 
we could have secured one thousand fresh men at Princeton to have 
pushed for Brunswick, we should have struck one of the most bril- 
liant strokes in all history. However the advantages are very 
great: already they have collected their whole force, and drawn 
themselves to one point, to wit, Brunswick. 

The enemy were within nineteen miles of Philadelphia, they are 
now sixty miles. We have driven them from almost the whole of 
West Jersey. The panic is still kept up. We had a battle two days 
ago with a party of ours and sixty Waldeckers, who were all killed 
or taken, in Monmouth County in the lower part of the Jerseys. It 
is not our interest to fight a general battle, nor can I think, under all 
circumstances, it is the enemy's. They have sent their baggage to 
Staten Island from the Jerseys, and we are very well informed they 
are doing the same from New York. Heath will have orders to 
march there and endeavor to storm it from that side. • There 
is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood leads on to 

[Life, etc. cf General Knox. By Francis S. Drake. Boston, 1873.] 

[No. 50.] 

Allentown January 2 ai 1777. 
This morning 'we were called up at 2 o'clock under a pretended 
alarm that we were to be attacked by the enemy but by daylight we 
were ordered to march for Trenton, and when we reached Cross- 
wicks found that the brigade had gone. We reached Trenton about 
1 1 o'clock and found all the troops from our different posts in Jersey, 
collected and collecting there under General Washington himself; 
and the regular troops were already properly disposed to receive 
the enemy, whose main body was then within a few miles and deter- 
mined to dispossess us. 


Trenton stands upon the River Delaware, with a creek called the 
Assanpink passing through the town across which there is a bridge. 

The enemy came down on the upper side of this creek, through 
the town, and a number of our troops were posted with Riflemen and 
artillery to oppose their approach. 

The main body of our army was drawn up on a plain below, or 
on the lower side of the Assanpink, near the bridge, and the main 
force of our Artillery was posted on the banks and high ground 
along the creek in front of them. 

Gen. Mercer's brigade was posted about 2 miles up the creek, 
and the troops under Gen. Cadwallader were stationed in a field on 
the right about a mile from the town, on the main road, to prevent 
the enemy from flanking. We had five pieces of Artillery with our 
division and about 20 more in the field, near, and at the town. Our 
numbers were about five thousand, and the enemy's about seven 
thousand. The attack began about 2 o'clock and a heavy fire upon 
both sides, chiefly from the artillery continued untill dark. 

At this time the enemy were left in possession of the upper part 
of the town, but we kept possession of the bridge, altho' the enemy 
attempted several times to carry it but were repulsed each time with 
great slaughter. After sunset this afternoon the enemy came down 
in a very heavy column to force the bridge. The fire was very 
heavy and the Light troops were ordered to fly to the support of 
that important post, and as we drew near, I stepped out of the front 
to order my men to close up ; at this time Martinas Sipple was about 
10 sets behind the man next in front of him; I at once drew my 
sword and threatened to cut his head off if he did not keep close, 
he then sprang forward and I returned to the front The enemy 
were soon defeated and retired and the American army also retired 
to the woods, where they encamped and built up fires. I then had 
the roll called to see if any of our men were missing and Martinas 
was not to be found, but Leut. Mark McCall informed me that 
immediately upon my returning to the head of the column, after 
making him close up, he fled out of the field. 1 We lost but few 
men ; the enemy considerably more. It is thought Gen. Washing- 
ton did not intend to hold the upper part of the town. 

[Original in possession of Cscsar A. Rodney, Esq.] 

1 Sipple afterwards joined the Delaware Regiment under Col. David 
Hall, and is said to have proved a brave and faithful soldier. 


[No. 51.] 

January 3'* 1777. 

.... At two o'clock this morning, the ground having been frozen 
firm by a keen N. West wind, secret orders were issued to each de- 
partment and the whole army was at once put in motion, but no one 
knew what the Gen. meant to do. Some thought that we were going 
to attack the enemy in the rear ; some that we were going to Prince- 
ton ; the latter proved to be right. We went by a bye road on the 
right hand which made it about 1 6 miles. During this nocturnal march 
I with the Dover Company and the Red Feather Company of Phila- 
delphia Light Infantry led the van of the army and Capt Henry with 
the other three companies of Philadelphia Light Infantry brought up 
the rear. The van moved on all night in the most cool and deter- 
termined order, but on the march great confusion happened in the 
rear. There was a cry that they were surrounded by the Hessians, 
and several corps of Militia broke and fled towards Bordentown, but 
the rest of the column remained firm and pursued their march without 
disorder, but those who were frightened and fled did not recover from 
their panic until they reached Burlington. 

When we had proceeded to within a mile and a half of Princeton 
and the van had crossed Stony Brook, Gen. Washington ordered 
our Infantry to file off to one side of the road and halt Gen. Sul- 
livan was ordered to. wheel to the right and flank the town on that 
side, and two Brigades were ordered to wheel to the left, to make a 
circuit and surround the town on that side and as they went to break 

1 Captain Rodney marched with a Delaware company to the relief of 
Washington in the dark days of the campaign. Four other companies 
from Philadelphia, joined with his, formed a battalion under Captain 
Henry — Rodney being second in command. He was with Cadwallader's 
force during the battle of Trenton ; and his vivid description of the Storm 
that night, and the condition of the river [Force, fifth series, vol. ill.], has 
frequently been quoted by historical writers. His interesting account of 
subsc uent events, as given above, is now published for the first time. It 
has I en made the subject of a highly interesting paper prepared and read 
by Cxsar A. Rodney, Esq., of Wilmington, before the Historical Societies 
of Delaware and Pennsylvania. 


down the Bridge and post a party at the mill on the main road, to 
oppose the enemy's main army if they should pursue us from Trenton. 

The third Division was composed of Gen. Mercer's Brigade of 
Continental troops, about" 300 men, and Cadwalader's brigade of 
Philadelphia Militia to which brigade the whole of our light Infantry 
Regiment was again annexed. 

Mercer's brigade marched in front and another corp of infantry 
brought up the rear. My company flanked the whole brigade on 
the right in an Indian file so that my men were very much extended 
and distant from each other; I marched in front and was followed by 
Sargeant McKnatt and next to him was Nehemiah Tilton. Mercer's 
brigade which was headed by Col. Haslet of Delaware on foot and 
Gen. Mercer on horseback was to march straight on to Princeton 
without turning to the right or left. 

It so happened that two Regiments of British troops that were on 
their march to Trenton to reinforce their army there, received intelli- 
gence of the movements of the American Army (for the sun rose as 
we passed over Stony Brook) and about a mile from Princeton they 
turned off from the main road and posted themselves behind a long 
string of buildings and an orchard on the straight road to Princeton. 

The two first Divisions pi our army therefore passed wide to the 
right and left, and leaving them undiscovered went into Princeton. 
Gen. Mercer's Brigade, owing to some delay in arranging Cadwal- 
lader's men had advanced several hundred yards ahead and never 
discovered the enemy until he was turning the buildings they were 
posted behind, and then they were not more than fifty yards off. 

He immediately formed his men, with great courage, and poured 
a heavy fire in upon the enemy. But they being greatly superior in 
number returned the fire and charged bayonets, and their onset was 
so fierce that Gen. Mercer fell mortally wounded and many of his 
officers were killed, and the brigade being effectually broken up, began 
a disorderly flight. Col. Haslet retired some small distance behind the 
buildings and endeavored to rally them, but receiving a bullet through 
his head, dropt dead on the spot and the whole brigade fled in con- 
fusion. At this instant Gen. Cadwallader's Philadelphia Brigade 
came up and the enemy checked by their appearance took post behind 
a fence and a ditch in front of the buildings before mentioned, and so 
extended themselves that every man could load and fire incessantly ; 
the fence stood on low ground between two hills ; on the hill behind 
the British line they had eight pieces of artillery which played in 


cessantly with round and grape shot on our brigade, and the fire was 
extremely hot. Yet Gen. Cadwalader led up the head of the column 
with the greatest bravery to within 50 yards of the enemy, but this 
was rashly done, for he was obliged to recoil ; and leaving one piece 
of his artillery, he fell back about 40 yards and endeavored to form 
the brigade, and some companies did form and gave a few vollies, but 
the fire of the enemy was so hot, that, at the sight of the Regular 
troops running to the rear, the militia gave way and the whole brigade 
broke and most of them retired to a woods about 150 yards in the 
rear; but two pieces of artillery stood their ground and were served 
with great skill and bravery. 

At this time a field officer was sent>to order me to take post on the 
left of the artillery, until the brigade should form again, and, with the 
Philadelphia Infantry keep up a fire from some stacks and buildings, 
and to assist the artillery in preventing the enemy from advancing. 
We now crossed the enemy's fire from right to Left and took position 
behind some stacks just on the left of the artillery ; and about 30 of 
the Philadelphia Infantry were under cover of a house on our left and 
a little in the rear. 

About 150 of my men came to this post, but I could not keep 
them all there, for the enemies fire was dreadful and three balls, for 
they were very thick, had grazed me j one passed within my elbow 
nicking my great coat and carried away the breech of Sargeant 
McKnatts gun, he being close behind me, another carried away the 
inside edge of one of my shoe soles, another had nicked my hat 
and indeed they seemed as thick as hail. From these stacks and 
buildings we, with the two pieces of Artillery kept up a continuous 
fire on the enemy, and in all probability it was this circumstance 
that prevented the enemy from advancing, for they could not tell the 
number we had posted behind these covers and were afraid to 
attempt passing them ; but if they had known how few they were 
they might easily have advanced while the two brigades were in 
confusion and routed the whole body, for it was a long time before 
they could be reorganized again and indeed many, that were panic 
struck, ran quite off. Gen. Washington having rallied both Gen. 
Mercer's and Gen. Cadwallader's brigade, they moved forward and 
when they came to where the Artillery stood began a very heavy 
platoon fire on the march. This the enemy bore but a few minutes 
and then threw down their arms and ran. We then pushed for- 
wards towards the town spreading over the fields and through the 


woods to enclose the enemy and take prisoners. The fields were 
covered with baggage which the Gen. ordered to be taken care of. 
Our whole force met at the Court House and took there about 200 
prisoners and about 200 others pushed off and were pursued by 
advanced parties who took about 50 more. In this engagement we 
lost about 20 killed, the enemy about 100 men killed and lost the 
field. This is a very pretty little town on the York road 12 miles 
from Trenton; the houses are built of brick and are very elegant 
especially the College which has 52 rooms in it; but the whole town 
has been ravaged and ruined by the enemy. 

As soon as the enemy's main army heard our cannon at Princeton 
(and not 'til then) they discovered our manouvre and pushed after 
us with all speed and we had not been above an hour in possession 
of the town before the enemy's light horse and advanced parties 
attacked our party at the bridge, but our people by a very heavy 
fire kept the pass until our whole army left the town. Just as our 
army began our march through Princetown with all their prisoners 
and spoils the van of the British army we had left at Trenton came 
in sight, and entered the town about an hour after we left it, but 
made no stay and pushed on towards Brunswick for fear we should 
get there before him, which was indeed the course our General 
intended to pursue had he not been detained too long in collecting 
the Baggage and Artillery which the enemy had left behind him. 
Our army marched on to Kingston then wheeled to the left and 
went down the Millstone, keeping that River on our left ; the main 
body of the British army followed, but kept on through Kingston to 
Brunswick ; but one division or a strong party of horse took the road 
to the left of the Millstone and arrived on the hill, at the bridge on 
that road just as the van of the American Army arrived on the 
opposite side. I was again commanding the van of our army, and 
General Washington seeing the enemy, rode forward and ordered 
me to halt and take down a number of carpenters which he had 
ordered forward and break up the bridge, which was done and the 
enemy were obliged to return. We then marched on to a little 
village called Stone brook or Summerset Court House about 15 
miles from Princeton where we arrived just at dusk. About an hour 
before we arrived here 150 of the enemy from Princeton and 50 
which were stationed in this town went off with 20 wagons laden' 
with Clothing and Linen, and 400 of the Jersey militia who sur- 
rounded them were afraid to fire on them and let them go off unmol- 


cstcd and there were no troops in our army fresli enough to pursue 
them, or the whole might have been taken in a few hours. Our 
army now was extremely fatigued not having had any refreshment 
since yesterday morning, and our baggage had all been sent away 
the morning of the action at Trenton ; yet they are in good health 
and in high spirits 

Morristown January 6 lh 1777. 
We left Pluckemin this morning and arrived at Morristown just 
before sunset. The order of march, was first a small advance guard, 
next the officers who were prisoners, next my Light Infantry Regi- 
ment, in columns of four deep ; next the [prisoners flanked by the 
riflemen, next the head of the main column, with the artillery in 
front. Our whole Light Infantry are quartered in a very large 
house belonging to Col. Ford having 4 Rooms on a floor and Two 
stories high. This town is situated among the mountains of Morris 
County, about 18 miles from Elizabethtown, 28 from Brunswick and 
20 from Carroll's Ferry. 

[Originals in possession of Cxsar A. Rodney, Esq.] 

[No. 52.] 

" The following were the exact stations of Gen. Howe's army on 
the 6th of January, 1777, from an authentic account. 

At New York. — The first brigade of British consisting of the 4th, 
15th, 27th, and 45th regiments ; a squadron of light dragoons of the 
17th; and three Hessian regiments, viz. Hereditary Prince, Cassel 
and Donop. 

At Harlem. — The sixth brigade, British," consisting of the 23d, 
44th, and 6th regiments, and a brigade of Hessians. 

At Amboy. — 33d and 71st regiments, and remains of 7th and 
1 6th [?] regiments; a detachment of dragoons, and the Waldeck 

At Brunswick. — The guards, grenadiers, and light infantry. 


Second brigade, British, consisting of the 5th, 2Sth, 35th, and 49th 
regiments. Fourth brigade, British, consisting of the 17th, 40th, 
46th, and 55th regiments, and the 4 2 regiment, which is not brigaded. 
Also Donop's corps, Hessian grenadiers, and chasseurs. 

At Bergen. — The 57th regiment, ordered to Amboy, and preparing 
to embark. 

At Rhode Island. — Third and fifth brigades of British, consisting 
of the 10th, 37th, 3Sth, and 53d; of the 22d, 43d, 54th, and 63d 
regiments ; a battalion of grenadiers, and one of light infantry ; a 
troop of light dragoons ; a detachment of artillery, and two brigades 
of Hessians. 

This account shews clearly what places Gen. Howe is in posses- 
sion of, and what he is not ; that in Jersey he has only Brunswick 
and Amboy, and in New York only York city and Harlem. All 
other places are in possession of the Americans, who seem by the 
last accounts to be endeavoring to cut off the troops at Brunswick." 

[London Chronicle, March 1-4, 1777.] 







Returns and Statements of Prisoners 

[No. 53-] 



. . . " I myself was so happy as to fall at first into y c hands . . 
of y° 57th Reg 1 who used me with some degree of Civility, altho, 
some perticular Offrs were very liberal of their favourite Term (Rebels) 
& now & then did not forget to Remind me of a halter, &c; they 
did not Rob or Strip me of any of my Clothing, only took my 
Arms & Amunition, & after keeping me in y° Field sometime, in 
Confinment with several others under a Strong Guard, was sent off 
to Gen" Grants Quarters, at Gowaynes. In this March we passd 
through y e Front of several Brigades of Hessians who were peraded 
on several Emininences in order of Battle ; they Indeed made a very 
Warlike appearance, & as no power appear'd at yt [that] time to 
oppose them, their whole attention seemed to be fixed on us, nor were 
they by any means, sparing of their Insults; But their Offrs Esspaci- 
ally, Represented to y° life (as far as their Capacitys would admit) 
y e conduct of Infernal Spirits, under Certain Restrictions; Having 
pas'd through those Savage Insults, we at length came to a hill nigh 
to the place where we at first engaged y° Enimy y° morning; we 
were here met by a number of Insolent Soldiers among whom was 
one Woman who appeared remarkably Malicious and attempted sev- 
eral times, to throw Stones at us, when one of our Guard Informed 
me yt her husband had been killed in this Day's Action ; we were 
then conducted down to a barn near y° water side, where we Were 
drove into a Yard among a great number of Offrs & men who had 
been taken before us; soon after we came here, Capt. Jewett with a 
number of others were brought in, &: Confin'd with us; Capt 

1 Of Colonel Huntington's regiment. 


1 68 


Jewett had Reed two Wounds with a Bayonet after lie was taken & 
Strip'd of his Arms, & part of his Cloths, one in y° Brest «fc y c 
other in y° Belly, of wich he Languished with great pain until! y° 
Thirdsday following when he Died ; Sarg* Graves was also Stab'd 
in y" Thigh with a Bayonet, after he was taken with Cap' Jewett, of 
wich wound he recovered altho' he afterward perrish'd in Prison 

with many hundred others at N. York After being 

some time confined in this Yard, Cap 1 Jewett & some others who 
were wounded were ordered to some other place in order to have 
their Wounds dress'd, & I see no more of them this Night. . . . 
Early next morning Cap 1 Jewett came to us in excessive pain with 
his wounds already dress'd, but yet notwithstanding y° applications of 
several of y° Enimy's Cirgions, Especially one Doc r Howe (a young 
Scotch Gen 1 ) who treated him with great civility & tenderness, he 
Languished untill y c Thirdsday following (viz: y c 29th of Aug 1 at about 
5 oClock in y° Morning) when he Expired, & was Buried in an 
Orchard nigh s' 1 House, at about 8 ye same morning, with as 
much Deacence as our present Situation would Admit ; I myself 
[was] Indulg'd by Gn" Grant, at y° application of Maj r Brown, 
who Attended us in this place, to Attend y" Captains Funeral j The 
aforesaid Maj r Brown treated us with y c greatest Civility & Comples- 
ance, during our confinment in this place, & Endeavour'd to make 
our Accomodations, as agreable as possable ; Gen 11 Grant also was 
so good as to send us (with his Compliments,) two Quarters of Mut- 
ton well Cook'd, & several Loves of Bread, which were Acceptable 
to us, as most of us had eat nothing since y° Monday before." 

[ From copy of original in possession of Mr. Chas. I. Bushncll, New York.] 

[No. 54-] 

extract from. the journal of lieut. william 
Mcpherson ' . 


W m McPherson, Lieut, was taken Prisoner the 27"' Day of 
August by the Hathians [Hessians] and was taken to Elatbush, that 
evening and staid there five days and then they marched us down to 

1 Of Colonel Miles' regiment. The journal, McPherson says, was "wrote 
at John Lott's, Flatbush, L. I." 


the river and sent us aboard of one of their transports. Sept. the 
15th. I am as hearty as the time will admit. The Generals who 
were taken on Long Island are Gen 1 Sullivan, Lord Sterling. They 
were taken the 27th of Augt. 1776. That day there were twenty- 
three thousand of the King's troops on Long Island and about 
twenty-six hundred of the Continental troops against them which was 
suffered very much. Sept. 22"'. We sailed from below the Narrows 

up near New York and there we the 23 d day. There was some 

firing from the Rowbuck & another small vessel against our work 
on Paulus Hook which continued about half an hour. Col. Miles 
got leave to go to Philadelphia this 26th of November 1776, from 
New York where he was prisoner. The 7th of October we all left 
the Snow Mentor and were taken into New York and was put into a 
close house there. All the officers signed their parole this day 
& got a small bound to walk round to stretch their legs, which 
we found grateful. Nov. 20, 1776, all the officers got leave to 
walk in the bounds of the City of New York." 

[Original in the possession of Hon. Edward McPherson, Gettysburg, 


[No. 55.] 



Thomas Foster of full age being duly sworn, deposeth and saith 
that he was a soldier in the first battalion of the Pennsylvania Rifle- 
men, commanded by Colo. Miles ; that he was made a prisoner on 
Long Island ; that immediately after he was made prisoner he was 
stripped by the Hessians of all his clothes, except his frock and a pair 
of drawers ; that after they had stripped him, they put a cord about 
his neck and hanged him up to the limb of a tree, where they suf- 
fered him to remain until he was almost strangled; that they 
then cut him down and gave him a little rum to recover his spirits ; 
that they repeated this cruel sport three times successively; that 
he has frequently heard it said among the British troops that the 


Hessians hanged several of our prisoners, and further this deponent 

says not. 


examined and sworn in the presence of 

Gen l McDougall 
John Sloss Hobart 
Nathl. Sacket 
William Duer 

[Journal of the New York Provincial Congress, Vol. II.] 

[No. 56.] 




My Dear Spouse — these with my Love to you and Children may 
informe you of my present situation, which is that I am wounded in the 
head and arm but not dangerous. Should be glad that you will send 
me some necessary Clothing as I now remain in close confinement. 
I would not have you make yourself uneasy about me as I have been 

1 Captain Randolph was a very brave officer from Woodbridge, N.J., who, 
during the war, undertook several hazardous scouting expeditions. Ho 
belonged to the Continental army, was five times wounded, twice made a 
prisoner, and finally killed, in July, 1780, in a skirmish near" Springfield, 
New Jersey. He was the officer who captured the famous Colonel Billop. 
He appears to have been with Colonel Heard, when the latter was sent to 
seize torics on Long Island, in January, 177C ; in which connection the fol- 
lowing letter to his wife will be of interest : 

. . . When we Shall Return Home is unceartain we have Been Busy 
a Hunting up and Disarming the Torics ever Since wc Have Been Here. 
Have collected upwards of two Hundred Musk-its with ammunition &c. 
We was two nights at Jamaica where I had to take Jonathan Rowland an 
own uncle to Roberts wife. Likewise Sam 1 Doughty an acquaintance of 
Roberts. Charles Jackson is well and Desires to Be Remembered to his 
fammily and I Request of you to Show his wife this Letter. I Remain 

Hkmistkak, Jan. 34th, 1776. 

P. S. Wc proceed from Here to Oyster Bay. 


treated with the greatest kindness by Col. Prescott who commanded the 
party of King's Troops whose hands it was my misfortune to fall into. 
Likewise by most of the officers of the 28th and 35th Ridgements. 
I have been before Lord Cornwallace, who I believe looks upon 
my conduct nothing more than becoming a soldier — and Major 
Generl. Grant has for my conduct in taking his steward and stores 
kindly sent me word that I may send to him for any necessarys 
which I may want and shall be wellcome to. I would request to 
procure some person to bring what necessarys you may send to me 
and believe they will not be molested or detained if received protec- 
tion. I now conclude wishing you every happyness these times can 
afford and remain your ever affectionate Husband, 

Nathl. Fitz Randolph. 
On board Gaurd House at New Brunswick Jan. 26 ,h , 1777. 

P. S. Joseph Combes is well and hearty, and desires that his 
brother Stephen may send him some clothes, but in particular to 
send a pair of Buckskin Breeches. 
To Mrs. Experience Fitz Randolph — 
to the care of 
John Hampton 
Woodbridge. • 

I make no doubt but every intelligence you have had concerning 

me has been favorable and wish it was in my power to send you 

such intelligence now — But must informe you in as few words as 

possible that the wound in my head is verry painfull and dangerous 

and am now close confined in the Provost Goal, By a positive order 

from Generl. Howe. I would not have you make yourself uneasy 

about me as it will be of But Little Service to either of us — But wish 

you every Happyness the world can afford and remain your ever 

affectionate Husband, 

Nath'l. Fitz Randolph. 
New York Feb. 25"' 1777. . 

P. S. Our men who are prisoners here is verry sickly and are frying 
Dayly — John Parker an Indian Israel dyed here a few days ago — 
Please to send enclosed by some safe hand. 

To Mrs. Experience Fitz Randolph 
East Jersey. 


These -with my love to you and Children may informe you that I 
remain close Confined in the Provost Goal but in vain might attempt 
to discribe in a particular manner the misserys that attend the Poor 
Prisoners Confined in this Horrid place, they are dying dayly with 
(what is called here) the Goal fever but may more properly be called 
the Hungry fever which rages among the prisoners here confined in 
goals they being deprived of allmost every necessary of Life. As to 
the treatment I have received since a prisoner has been varrious Some- 
times like a Gentleman other times like a Ruffin, have been for a week 
without a Surgeon to attend me. At other times have been attended 
by eight or ten different Surgeons in one day, But have for three weeks 
past had verry regular attendance. My wounds is in a fair way of 
doing well and am in prety good Health. Being in great haste must 
conclude, desireing you to make your self as happy as possible in 
your present Situation and wait with patience until time brings a 
change. I remain with sincere affection, ever your affectionate Hus- 
band, Nathl. Fitz Randolph. 

New York, March io, 1777. 

P. S. David Tappin is confined in a Room where the Small Pox 
is and Reuben Potter lias been unwell for spme days past. 

[Originals in possession of Captain John Coddington Kinney, Hartford, 


[No. S7-] ; . 


" I was put on board with the other prisoners of war [at Philadel- 
phia] and sailed down the river Delaware, and went to New York. 
We were 12 days on our passage. I was then put' on my parole of 
honour and boarded with a plain Dutch family in Kings County, at 

' Captain James Morris was a Connecticut officer. lie first entered the 
service as ensign in Colonel Gay's Regiment, and was engaged in the battle 
of Long Island. In the following year, as lieutenant, he fought at the battle 
of Germantown, where he was taken prisoner, and closely confined in Phila- 
delphia until removed to Long Island. When released, in 1781, he wai 


the west end of Long Island. We were confined within the limits of 
said County. 

. At Flat Bush I became acquainted with a M r Clarkson a man oi 
science and of a large property, he owned the most extensive private 
Library that I had ever known in the United States, his wife had a 
capacious mind and she was remarkably distinguished for her piety. 
Mr. Clarkson made me a welcome visitor at his house and gave me 
access to his library. He allowed me to take as many books as I 
chose and carry them to my lodgings. I there lived two years and 
six months devoting my time to reading. I read through a course 
of ancient and modern history. My exercise was hand labour and 
walking. I tended a garden one summer upon shares and my net 
profits were about twelve dollars. The next summer I obtained the 
use of a small piece of Land and planted it with potatoes from which 
my net profits were 30 dollars. I was treated with great kindness 
by the family with which I lived. I endeavored to be always on the 
pleasant side with them and to be sure, not to be wanting in my 
attentions to my landlady. Here I learned that the little nameless 
civilities and attentions were worth a great deal more than they cost 
me. Here I was peculiarity situated to learn the human character : 
for the inhabitants in this county were all attached to the British 
Government and said the officers paroled there were all rebels, and 
that they would finally be hung for their rebellion, so that if any of 
us received any injury or met with any abuse from the inhabitants we 
could have no redress we must patiently bear it. The Dutch inhabi- 
tants were uncultivated yet many of them possessed strength of 
mind and were intelligent. They were mostly strangers to the sym- 
pathies and tender sensibilities which so much rejoiced the heart of 
friends with friends and promote the happiness of society. But not- 

dctailcd to Scammcll's Light Infantry Corps, and took part in the capture 
of Yorktown, Virginia. One of his letters, written from Flatbush while 
prisoner, is as follows : 

F1.ATUUSH, Long Island, June 30, 1778. 
Wednesday, the 17th inst., the American Prisoners of war left Philadel- 
phia. I embarked on board the Sloop Nancy, Capt. Hill. Sailed as far as 
Hillings Port ; then went on board the Brig Minerva, Capt. Smith, in order 
to sail for New York. After a passage of 12 days arrived at New York, 
being the 28th inst. The 29th I was paroled upon Long Island, and went 
to live at the House of Mr. John Lott. Our treatment, both officers and 
soldiers, while on board the shipping, was much better than I expected ; 
our situation was as agreeable as circumstances would admit. We had the 
liberty of any part of the ship, and both officers and soldiers had a supply 
of provisions and a gill of Rum per man per day. 

1 74 


withstanding I was thus secluded from my particular friends and 
acquaintances yet I enjoyed my share of comfort and worldly felicity. 
I felt no disposition to murmer and repine in my then condition. 
Every day afforded me its enjoyments excepting a time when I had 
a pretty severe attack with the ague and fever which reduced me low. 
The whole term of my Captivity was three years and three months 
lacking one day. I was exchanged on the 3rd day of Jan* 1781. 
I was taken from Flat Bush to New York and from thence conveyed 
to Elizabethtown in New Jersey and set at liberty." 

[Original in possession of Hon. D wight Morris, Bridgeport, Conn.] 

[No. 58.] 



Kings Bridge, August 20, 1776. 

Gentlemen: I send to your care and safe keeping the following 9 
prisoners of war, taken on Long Island, on the 27 th instant viz: 
Lieutenant John Pagg, of the Marines, Sergeant David Wallace, 
Corporal Thomas Pike and Edward Gibbon, William Smith, Isaac I 
Hughs, Thomas Haraman, John Woodard, Edward Cavil, William 
Williams, William Coortney, Stephen Weber, John Smith, Samuel % 
Mortal, Thomas Sarral, Joseph Distant, Benjamin Jones, William 
Jones, William Pearce, John Hopkins, Henry Weston, Evan Evans, 
and John Morten, Privates. 

You will please to secure them in such manner as to prevent their 
escape, observing the order of Congress in this respect. 
I am, gentlemen, with Esteem, 

Your humble Servant 

W. Heath, Major General. 

To the Committee of the Town of Fairfield [Conn.] 

[Force, 5th Series, vol. i, p. 1215.] 






















































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[No. 60.] 


Three Generals. 
Major Gensral John Sullivan, 
Brigadier General Lord Stirling, 
Brigadier General Nathaniel Woodhull. 1 

Three Colonels. 

Fenn. Rifle Reg't 1 Col. Samuel Miles, 

Penn. Musketeers 1 Col. Sam. John Atlee, 

New Jersey Militia 1 Col. Phillip Johnston." 

Four Lieut.-Colonels. 

Penn. Rifle Reg't 1 [Miles'] . . Lt. Col. James Piper, 

_, wmv ( Lt. Col. Nicholas Lutz, 

Penn. Militia 2 \ T _ , _ „ ... 

{ Lt. Col. Peter Kachlein, 

1 7th Continental Regt. 1 [Huntington's] Lt. Col. Joel Clark. 
Three Majors. 

Penn. Militia 1 [Lutz's] Maj. Edward Burd, 

1 7th Continental Reg't 1 Maj. Browne,* 

22d Continental Reg't 1 [Wyllys's]. . .* Maj. Levi Wells. 

Eighteen Captains. 

j Capt. Richard Brown, 1st Batt., 
I " Wm. Peebles, 2d Batt. 
Capt. Thomas Herbert, 

Penn. Rifle Reg't. 

Penn. Musketeers 4 [Atlee's]. 1 

Joseph Howell,* 
Francis Murray,* 
John Nice.* 

1 The left-hand column, naming the regiments, with the rank and number 
of officers captured, is taken from the report of Joseph Loring, the British 
Commissary of Prisoners. — Force, 5th Series, vol i., p. 1258. The names 
added opposite have been collated from official rolls, published and In 
manuscript, unless otherwise stated in notes. 

2 Reference has already been made to Gen. Woodhull and Col. Johnston 
in the chapter on " The Battle of Long Island." 

3 Huntington's regiment appears to have had no major at this date ; cer- 
tainly none was taken prisoner. In the return of prisoners exchanged 
Dec. 9, 1776, there is this memorandum in regard to Maj. Browne : "' Taken 
on Long Island, not in arms. It is proposed that he be exchanged for 
Major Wells, of Connecticut." 



Penn. Militia. 

Lutz' Battalion. 

Capt Jacob Crowle, 

" Joseph Heister,* 
* « Jacob Mauser.* 

KachleitCs Battalion. 
Capt. Garret Graff,* 

" Henry Hogenbach,* 
. " Timothy Jayne.* 
The officers designated by the asterisk were exchanged Dec. 9, 1776. 
See list in Ptnn. Anhivtt, Second Scries, vol. i., p. 426. 

Capt. Joseph Jewett, 1 

17th Continental 4 

Ozias Bissell, 
Jonathan Brewster, 
Caleb Trowbridge, 
Timothy Percival, 
Eben. F. Bissell. . 

Provincial Rifle Reg'ts 1 1 

Train of Artillery. . . . 1 Capt.-Lieut John Johnston.* 

Maryland Provincials. 2 [Smallwood's] Capt. Daniel Bowie.' 
Forty-three Lieutenants. 

1st Battalion. 
1 st Lieut. Wilfiam Gray,* 
" John Spear, 
" John Davis, 
" George Wert, 

2d Lieut. Joseph Triesbach, 
" Wm. McPherson, 
" Luke Broadhead.* 
2d Battalion. 
i st Lieut. Matthew Scott,* 
" Daniel Topham, 

Lieut. Brownlee. 

Cunningham's Regiment. 
Lieut. Patterson. 

1 There is a discrepancy here. The English give four Captains, while Hun- 
tington's return gives six. So also in Lieutenants and Ensigns. 

5 This name docs not appear on any roll, but no doubt Johnston was the 
Captain intended, no other having been taken prisoner. 

3 Bowie was the only Maryland Captain taken, the rest being accounted 
for. Possibly one of the Lieutenants — six having been taken instead of five, 
as the English report — was rated by mistake as a Captain. 



Ppnn Musketeers... 




Zutz' Battalion. 
Lieut. Stephen Baldy. 1 

KachWkris Battalion. 
Lieut. Lewis, 

" Medow [Middagh] 
" Shoemaker. 

17 th Continental Reg't 6 

' Lieut. Solomon Orcutt, 
" Jabez Fitch, Jr., 
" Thomas Fanning, 
" Solomon Makepeace, 
" Nathaniel Gove, 
" Jonathan Gillet. 

Delaware Battalion 2 \ Li f " J ° nalh c an H «™*» 

j " Alex. Stewart 

1st Battalion N. Y. ) rT aoWcl 
Continental... S f[ LashCrs] ^ 

Lieut. Edward Dunscomb, 

" Robert Troup * 
Adj. Jeronimus Hoogland, 
Lieut. Gerrit Van Wagenen, 1 
" Wm. Gilliland. 

nth Battalion Continental.. . 1 [Hitchcock's] Lieut. John Blunt. 
New Jersey Militia 1 [Johnston's] 1st Lieut. John Toms, 

Lieut. Samuel Wright, 
" Edward De Courcy. 

j Lieut. Coe,* 
i " . 

I v| 

i st Batt. Maryland ) [Veazey's 
Independents . . . ) Co.] 

Long Island Militia 2 


Train of Artillery 1 . . Cadet John Callender. 4 

1 There was but one Lieutenant taken in Lutz's Battalion. See Rolls in 
Force, Returns of Col. Mailer's regiment. 

' Lieuts. Van Wagenen and Gilliland did not belong to Lasher's battalion, 
but were taken with Dunscomb, Troup, and Hoogland, and probably rated 
with them. 

8 In Onderdonk's Revolutionary Incidents it is stated that Coe was a 
Lieutenant of the troopers, and was taken the day after the battle. The other 
Lieutenant was taken at the time of Gen. Woodhull's capture, but his name 
does not appear. 

4 Callender is c'oubtless meant. He was rated as a Lieutenant after- 
wards, and was confined in officers' quarters. 




Maryland Provincials 5 ■ 

'1st Lieut. Wm. Sterret, 

" Joseph Butler, 

Lieut Hatch Dent, 
" Walter Ridgely, 

" Walter Muse, 
" Edward Praul. 

Eleven Ensigns. 


Penn. Musketeers 4 - 

17th Continental Reg't 5 - 

Ensign W. Henderson, 
" Alexander Huston,* 
" Michael App*, 
" Septimus Davis.* 

' Ensign Anthony Bradford, 
" Joseph Chapman, 
" • Cornelius Higgins, 
" John Kinsman, 
" Elihu Lyman, 
" Joel Gillet. 

Maryland Provincials 2 \ „ g _ ' _ ' , 

( " James Fernandez. 


Adjutant 1 [Huntington's] Adj. Elisha Hopkins. 

Mile? Battalion. 

Surgeons 31 

Dr. John Davis, 
Dr. Joseph Davis.* 

Huntington's Regt. 
Dr. Silas Holmes. 

Volunteers 2 \ Lieut David Duncan > 

— Young. 1 

( Lieu 

\ " 

1 These were two Pennsylvania officers, and it is supposed that they were 
serving as volunteers at the battle. Their names appear in Force. 


[No. 61.] y 



Killed. — Antony Wolf. 

Missing. — Samuel Everett, Amasa Pebody. 


Captain Kimball's Company. 
Missing. — Richard Wallen. 

Captain Symond's Company, 
Killed. — John Elliott. 
Missing. — Nath. Ramson, John, Fatten. 

Captain C. Ol/iey's Company. 
Missing. — Caleb Herenden, Benjamin Foster, Daniel Williams, 
London Citizen [a negro]. 

Captain Bowen's Company. 
Missing. — William Deputrin. 


Captain Parkers Company. 
Killed. — Peter Barthrick. 

Captain Wade's Company. 
Missing. — Archelaus Puleifer. 

Captain Dodge's Company. 
Missing. — Elijah Lewis. 

col. huntington's reg't. — seventeenth continental [conn.] 
Captain Tyler's Company. 
Missing. — Bartlet Lewis, Elisha Benton, Sergeants; Reuben 
Bates, Olive Jennings, Joseph White, Jesse Swaddle, Corporals; 
Joseph Arnold, Joel Ballard, Azariah Benton, Lemuel Lewis, Seth 
Rider, John Smith, Jeremiah Sparks, Jonathan Withe/d, Josiah Ben- 
ton, Luke Kimball, Jonathan Barnard, James Lindsey, Privates. 


Captain Jcwetfs Company. 

Missing. — Stephen Otis, Rufus Tracy, Roswel Graves, Sergeants; 
Nathan Raymond, Peleg Edwards, Corporals; Joshua Blake, Billa 
Dyer, Theophilus Emerson, Jaspar Griffin, Elisha Miller, Adam 
Mitchel, Charles Phelps, Silas Phelps, Oliver Rude, Ebenezer 
Smith, Jacob Sterling, Timothy Tiffany, Peter Way, Lebbeus 
Wheeler, Nathan Wood, David Yarrington, Duron Whittlesey, 
William Eluther, Zadock Pratt, Eliphalet Reynolds, Rufus Cone, 

Captain Trowbridge's Company. 

Missing. — Daniel Ingalls, Daniel Farnham, Moses Smith, Ser- 
geants ; George Gordon, Levi Farnham, Corporals ; Silas Bottom, 
Drum-Major; William Bedlock, Alexander Brine, Joseph Clarke, 
John Colegrove, Luke Durfee, George Forster, Caleb Green, John 
Gardner, Ebenezer Keyes, John Kingsbury, Robert Lithgow, Benja- 
min Lounsbury, Ishmael Moffit, Joseph Munsur, Daniel Malone, 
Solomon Mears, John Pollard, Stephen Potter, Joseph Russell, Allen 
Richards^Monday Smith, David Saunders, John Talmage, William 
Turner, John Thomas, Samuel White, John Winter, Privates. 

Captain Ozias Bissell's Company. 

Missing. — Ebenezer Wright, Howard Moulton, Sergeants ; Free- 
grace Billings, Nathan Barney, Abner Belding, Seth Belding, Daniel 
Church, Lemuel Deming, George Edwards, Thomas Green, Jesse 
Judson, David Lindsey, Michael Mitchel, Samuel Moulton, Joseph 
A. Minot, Giles Nott, James Price, Jonathan Price, Benjamin Rip- 
nor, Timothy Risley, Joel Skinner, Daniel Thomas, Robert Wallas, 

Captain Brewster's Company. 

Missing. — Theophilus Huntington, Sergeant; Jabez Avery, Wil- 
liam Button, Corporals; Simon Armstrong, Jesse Barnet, Joseph 
Ellis, Asa Fox, Samuel Fuller, Elijah Hammond, Solomon Huntley, 
Sanford Herrick, Luther Japhet, John Lewis, Thomas Matterson, 
Rufus Parke, Amasa Pride, Jehiel Pettis, Roger Packard, Samuel 
Tallman, John Vandeusen, Calvin Waterman, John Williams, Privates. 

Captain PercivaVs Company. 

Missing. — Roger Coit, Uriah Hungerford, Rous BIy, ( [killed,] 
Sergeants. Samuel Agard, Daniel Bartholomew, Silas Bates, John 
Bray, David Brown, Solomon Carrington, John Curtis, John Button, 


Daniel Freeman, Gad Fuller, Abel Hart, Jason Hart, Timothy 
Isham, Azariah Lothrop, John Moody, Timothy Percival, Isaac Pot- 
ter, Elijah Rose, Elijah Stanton, Benjamin Tubbs, Abraham Yarring- 
ton, Jesse Roberts, Privates. 

Captain Fitch BisseWs Company. 
Missing. — Cornelius Russell, Eleazer House, Hezekiah Haydon, 
Sergeants ; Samuel Bordman, Aaron Porter, Elisha Boardman, Cor- 
porals; Robert Newcomb, Drummer; John Atwood, Orias Atwood, 
William Craddock, Ira Clark, Roderick Clark, Lemuel Fuller, Abner 
Fuller, Roger Tyler, Carmi Higley, Erastus Humphy, Jonathan 
Halladay, John Willson, John White, John Fletcher, Privates. 

Captain Hubbard's Company. 
Missing. — William Talmage, Samuel Skinner, William Parsons* 
Ebenezer Coe, Sergeants ; Eleazer Brooks, Samuel Buck, Jr., Cor- 
nelius Coverling, Aaron Drake, Benjamin Hills, Alexander Ingham, 
Elias Leet, Levi Loveland, Elijah Roberts, Reuben Shipman, Samuel 
Strictland, Seth Turner, Nathan Whiting, Job Wetmore, Privates. 


Captain King's Company. 
Missing. — Moses Whitney, James Barker, Privates. 

Captain Bartlet's Company. 
Missing. — Cornelius Warren, Private. 


Captain Pettibone's Company. 
Missing. — William Gaylord, Private. 

Captain Scott's Company, 
Missing. — Eliezur Loveland, Private. 

Captain Wrights Company. 
Missing. — Joel Taylor, Private. 

Major Holdridge's Company. 
Missing. — Abner Rider, Sherman Shadduck, Elijah Smith, Joseph 
Watrous, Privates. 

Captain Mills' Company. 
Missinc. — Robert Lusk, Jonathan Ingham, Privates. 




(Two Battalions.) 
First Battalion. — Captain Farmer's Company. 
Missing. — Robert Garrett, Drummer; Alexander Anderson, John 
Barger, Henry Cordier, Creewas Bastian, Cornelius Dauel, George 
Dillman, ^George Edwards, Jacob Engelhart, Chushan Foy, Philip 
Feese, George Garling, Benjamin Hackett, Lawrence Homan> 
Nicholas Hause, Martin Haynes, Jonathan Hager, Jacob Kop- 
pinger, Adam Kydle, Conrad Meserly, George Miller, Jr., Adam 
Swager, Jacob Shifle [wounded], Francis Shitz, Jacob Shutt, Jacob 
Slottner, Goodlip Voolever, Henry Wise, John Young, Privates. 

Captain Browris Company, 
Missing. — James Anderson, Sergeant; William Lever, Drummer; 
Hugh Barkley, Hezekiah, Biddle, William Bradley, Peter Carmichael, 
Samuel Crosson, Peter Develin, Timothy Driskil, Adam Growss, 
Alexander Holmes, Robert Huston, John McGriggor, Christy Mc- 
Michael, William Moore, Jonathan Nesbit, Richard Roberts, Na- 
thanael Scott, Degory Sparks, Robert Stokes, Privates. 

Captain Zong's Company. 
Missing. — Thomas Higginbottom, Sergeant; Henry Donely, 
Drummer; James Nelson, Fifer; John Beatty,*Thomas Christopher, 
Abraham Dunlap, John Elliot, Jr., John Elliot, Sen., Benjamin Har- 
verd, Patrick Kelly, Daniel McLean, Hugh Mulhalon [wounded], 
John Williams, Privates. 

Captain Albright's Company. 
Missing. — Thomas Wilson, Robert Tate, James Geddes, Ser- 
geants ; Andrew Boned, Alexander Boyd, Edward Carleton, James 
Cuxel, Thomas Fosler, Hugh Gobin, Jacob Helsley, John Henary, 
Philip Kennedy, William Kilpatrick, Thomas Knee (or Karee), Con- 
rad Lead, Henry McBroom, Hugh McClughan, John McElnay, 
James McFarland, Bartholomew McGuire, Jacob Newman, John 
Rinehart, Henry Shadon, Charles Spangler, Charles Stump 

1 The returns of the losses in the Pennsylvania regiments, as here given, 
are copied from the original manuscript rolls in the public archives of that 
State. I am indebted to the Hon. John A. Linn, Assistant Secretary of the 
Commonwealth, Harrisburg, not only for the authenticated copies, but for 
several of the documents in Part II., and for much other information re- 
specting the troops from Pennsylvania. — Ed. 


[wounded], John Svvartz, George Wampler, Edward Wells, Thomas 
Williams, Privates. 

Captain Shade's Company. 

Missing. — Isaac Gruber, Sergeant ; Henry Baker, Henry Bolla- 
baker, John Bower, Henry Goodshalk, Jacob Isenhart, Adam 
Kerchner, George Keibler, John Lee, John McAry, Lorentz Miller, 
Christopher Neighhast, John Simmins, Elias Schwartz, Frederick 
Tickard, Henry Weaver, Privates. 

Captain WeitzeWs Company. 

Missing. — John Gordon, Sergeant-Major; Thomas Price, Ser- 
geant; William Allison, Peter Brady, Andrew Carter, Robert Ca- 
ruthers, Henry Gass, John Hardy, Dennis Huggins, Martin Ker- 
shller, Joseph Madden, William McCormick, Patrick McVey, Rob« 
ert Morehead, Andrew Ralston, John Rice, Jacob Speiss, James 
Watt, Privates. 

Second Battalion. — Captain Murray's Company. 

Missing. — Thomas Dudgeon, John Galloway, Daniel McCoy, 
Thomas Plunkett, Privates. 

Captain Peebles' Company. 

Missing. — P. Heylands, Sergeant; James Carson, Drummer; 
Edmund Lee, Fifer; James Atcheson, Samuel Dixon, Samuel Mont- 
gomery, David Moore, James Moore, James Mortimore, John NeU, 
Robert Nugent, Patrick Quigley, Thomas Rogers, William Wither- 
spoon, Privates, 

Captain Marshall's Company. 

Missing. — Robert Andrews, Robert Slemen, Privates. 

Captain Erwin's Company. 

Missing. — James Dugan, John Justice, William Lindsay, Samuel 
Roddy, Sergeants;' Daniel Brownspeld, Jeremiah Gunnon, John 
Guthry, William Guthry, John Henry, Philip Kelly, Andy McKenzie 
[a volunteer], William Moore, William Mull, James Nelson, William 
Nelson, Stephen Singlewood, Charles Stamper, John Stoops, William 
Twifold, Angus Wilkinson, Privates. 

1 One of these sergeants escaped, but the rolls do net show which one. 


Captain Grubb's Company. 

Missing. — George Brown, John Hehm, Robert Henderson, Joseph 
McFarland, Privates. 

Captain Christ's Company. 

Missing. — Matthew Whitlow, Jeremiah . Geiss, Sergeants ; Paul 
Frederick, Yost Fuchs, Privates. 


Captain Atuierson's Company. 

Missing. — Francis Ferguson, William Harper, John Madden, 
William McCormick, Hector McGowan, John Moore, Benjamin 
Nain, Hosea Rigg, Edward Wood, Privates. 

Captain Lloyd's Company. 

Missing. — William Nemrich, Sergeant [wounded]; Jesse Moore, 
Fifer; Michael Clary, Michael Deny, Folk Matthias, Archibald 
Graham, James Hidden, Robert Kinen, Adam Kingfield, Patrick 
McCullough, James Moore, Edward Murphy, William Powel, James 
Tyrer, Richard Wallace, William Watson, Privates. 

Captain Murray's Compaqy. 

Missing. — Joseph Atkinson, James Davis, William Gillespie, John 
Guthrie, Thomas Logan, Thomas McConnell, John McEnrae, John 
Moody, Patrick Mullan, David Robinson, .Privates. 

Captain McClellan's Company. 

Missing. — James Mitchell, Sergeant [wounded]'; Joseph Moor, 
Corporal [killed] ; John Calhoon, James Elder, Michael Kenaday, 
Robert Love, Justin McCarty, James McClure, Daniel McElroy, 
James McElvay, William Mcllvain, Thomas Mitchel, Thomas 
Moore [wounded], William Murray [wounded], O'Trail Morris, 

Captain Herbert's Company. 

Missing. — Eleazer Crain, John Everhart, John- Ingram, George 
Ridge, Boston Wagoner, Michael Weaver, Privates. 

Captain De Huffs Company. 

Missing. — Michael Loy, Jacob Marks, Christian Mentzer, Patrick 
Mulrang, Peter Wile, Godlip Wiseman, Privates. 



1 86 


Captain Nice's Company. 
Missing. — Edward Barnhouse, Edward Baxter, Michael Domiller, 
John Gee, John Huston, Robert Jones, Edward Justice, Richard 
Robeson, Michael Stucke, Privates. 

Captain HowelFs Company. 

Missing. — Michael Carmodey, John Ervine [killed], John Gilkey,- 
James Gallagher, William Jones, William McMaunagel, William 
Tweedy, Privates. 


Captain John Arndt's Company. 

Missing. — Andrew Hessher, Andrew Reefer, Sergeants'; Thomas 
Sybert, Martin Derr, George Fry, Lawrence Gob, Anthony Frutches, 
Peter Froes, John Harpel, Jacob Dufford, Joseph Stout, Mathias 
Stidinger, Peter Beyer, Peter Lohr, Bernhard Miller, Richard Over- 
feld, Jacob Weid Knecht, Henry Bush, Sr., Peter Kern, Philip Bush, 
Abraham Peter. 

col. gay's reg't. — [conn.] 

Captain Goodwin's Company. 
Missing.— Clement Maxfield, Martin "Nash, Privates. 

Captain Weils' Company. 
Missing. — Joseph Bidwell, Private. 

Captain Wilson's Company. 
Missing. — Benjamin Frisby, Private. 

col. Chester's reg't. — [conn.] 

Missing. — Maygot, Cheney, Marret, Upham, Fling, Alderman, 
Humphry, Gillet, Martin, Shawn, Sasanan, Tassett, Privates. 


In the few following sketches the writer has simply incorporated such 
facts of personal interest as have come to his knowledge while preparing the 

As for the generals who took part in this campaign, Washington, Stephen, 
and Mercer were from Virginia ; General Beall, of Maryland, commanded 
part of the Flying Camp from that State ; Generals Mifflin and St. Clair were 
from Pennsylvania — also Generals Cadwallader, Roberdeau, and Ewing, who 
commanded Pennsylvania " Associators" for a short time (Roberdeau also 
having a brigade under Greene at Fort Lee) ; Generals Stirling and Heard, 
from New Jersey ; Generals James and George Clinton, McDougall, Scott, 
and Woodhull, from New York ; Generals Putnam, Spencer, Wadsworth, 
Wolcott, and Parsons, from Connecticut ; General Greene, from Rhode 
Island ; Generals Heath, Nixon, Fellows, and Lincoln, from Massachusetts ; 
and General Sullivan, from New Hampshire. General Lee was born in 
Wales, had served in the British army, and settled in Virginia. General De 
Fermoy was a Frenchman. 

Callender, Captain John. — This officer, who behaved so well on Long 
Island, was the son of Eliezer Callender, of Boston. At the close of the war 
he became a merchant in Virginia, and died at Alexandria, in October, 1797. 

Clark, Lieutenant-Colonel Joel.— Lieutenant Fitch states that Clark, 
who commanded Huntington's regiment at the battle of Long Island, and 
was taken prisoner, died about one o'clock on the morning of December 
19th, after a long sickness, and was buried in the New Brick Churchyard 
[now Park Row], in New York. Officers followed his remains to the grave. 

Douglas, Colonel William. — Born in Plainfield, Conn., January 17th, 
1742. Afterwards lived in Northford. Served as Putnam's orderly-sergeant 
in the French and Indian War. In 1775 joined Montgomery, who put him 
in charge of the flotilla on Lake Champlain, in view of his nautical experi- 
ence. In 1776 he raised a regiment for the army at New York, where, as 
appears in the narrative, he proved himself a thorough soldier. In 1777 he 
raised a Continental regiment, but his health broke down, and he died May 
28th of that year. His death was a loss to the service, as he was a man of 
faith, character, and personal courage. The regiment he raised was given to 
the famous Colonel Return Jonathan Meigs. 



Di'NSCOMtt, Lieutenant Edward. — Born May 23d, 1754, in New York. 
Died November 12th, 1814. Graduate of Columbia College in 1774. He was 
son of Daniel Dunscomb, a firm friend of the colonial cause. After his cap- 
ture at the Jamaica Pass, August 27th, he was confined on a prison ship and 
fell sick, but recovered, and on his exchange rejoined the army, where, in 
1780, he appears as Captain of the Fourth New York Line. After the war he 
became clerk of the United States Courts. He was also a vestryman of 
Trinity Church, and a trustee of Columbia College. The tradition in his 
family is that he was asked to be Hamilton's second in the duel with Burr, 
but declined in disapproval of the practice. / 

Fish, Major Nicholas. — Born in New York, August 28111,1758; died June 
2oth, 1833. He was at Princeton a short time, but leaving college, studied 
law with John Morin Scott, whose brigade-major he became in 1776. Fish 
afterwards served with the New York Line through the war, and as major 
of light infantry under Hamilton at Yorktown. In 1786 he became adju- 
tant-general of New York, was afterwards an alderman of the city and pres« 
ident of the Cincinnati. He was the father of the Hon. Hamilton Fish, ex- 
Secretary of State. 

Gay, Colonel Fisher. — Of Wadsworth's brigade. He came from Farm- 
ington, Conn., having served also at the siege of Boston. His regiment 
was for some time on Long Island, but the colonel had been sick, and 
either died or was buried on the day of the battle, August 27th. 

Hale, Captain Nathan. — The most authoritative account of his capture 
and death is given by Hull, who was captain with him in Webb's regiment. 
Lossing states that he was hanged from an apple-tree in Rutgers' orchard. I 
Hale was a young graduate of Yale ; came from Ashford, Conn. The 
sketch of his life by I. W. Stuart, Hartford, 1856, contains the particulars ot ■,'■/. 
his career. See page 262, Part I. 

Hamilton, Captain Alexander. — See chapter on " The Two Armies." 
Hamilton was stationed in New York at the Grand Battery and Fort George, 
and doubtless participated in the firing on the ships whenever they passed up ' 
either river. At White Plains his guns did good execution, also in the subse- 
quent actions in New Jersey. In March, 1777, he became aid to Washington 
with rank of lieutenant-colonel, and particularly distinguished himself at 
Monmouth, and afterwards as commander of a light infantry battalion at 
Yorktown. He had few if any superiors among the younger officers of the 
Revolutionary army. 

Hknsiiaw, Lieutenant-Colonel William. — Born at Boston February 
20th, 1735, and removed to Leicester in 1745. He served in the French war 
under Amherst. The Lexington alarm he answered promptly, and marched to 
Hoston at the head of his militia regiment. The Massachusetts Provincial 
Congress appointed him adjutant-general of the army mustered around Bos- 
ton, and he held that position until relieved by General Gates in July. He 


was actively engaged through the entire campaign in 1776, being in the midst 
of the fighting on Long Island, at Harlem Heights, and at Princeton. At the 
close of the campaign he retired from the service. A full and interesting 
sketch of him, together with his Order Hook of 1775, has lately been published 
by the Massachusetts Historical Society. Colonel Hcnshaw died February 
20th, 1820. 

Hughes, Colonel Hugh.— Of Welsh extraction. Taught a select gram- 
mar school, in 17C5, in the French Church Consistory Rooms in Nassau 
Street, New York. Ho served most efficiently in the quartermaster's depart- 
ment during much of the war, and died in 1802, seventy-five years of age. 

Johnston, Captain John. — After partially recovering frokA his severe 
wounds received at the battle of Long Island, Captain Johnston took up the 
artist's profession, and painted several historical portraits, among them that of 
Samuel Adams and his wife. He also painted his own, which is in posses- 
sion of his grandson, Mr. J. J. Sorcn, of Boston. 

Knowi.ton, Lieutenant-Colonel. — Born in West Boxford, Mass., 
November, 1740, and removed to Ashford, Conn. He served in the French 
war as private in Captain Durkee's company. A full and accurate sketch 
of him may be found in the New England Historical and Gen. Register foe- 
January, 1861, by Ashbel Woodward, M.D., of Franklin, Conn. 

Lasher, Colonel John. — Born March 3d, 1724, probably in New York;. 
A merchant of some wealth. He lost four houses in the fire of September 
21st, 1776. On the expiration of the term of service of his battalion, he was 
elected a lieutenant-colonel of one of the New York Continental regiments,, 
but declined. He died in New York at an advanced age. Sec references to> 
him in the chapter on " The Two Armies." 

Little, Colonel Moses. — Frequently mentioned in the account of the 
campaign. He was one of the " Descendants of George Little, who came 
to Newbury, Mass., in 1640" — the title of a handsome little work compiled 
by Mr. George T. Little, and printed in 1877. During the retreat through 
• New Jersey, Colonel .Little was sick at Peekskill, and could not participate 
with his men at Trenton and Princeton. He rendered further service at 
various times during the war. 

McDougall, General Alexander. — Born in Scotland in 1731 ; died in 
New York, June 8th, 178C. It is understood that a biography of this officer 
is in the course of preparation. As he was so closely. identified with the 
Revolutionary struggle, it could be made a valuable work, if his papers are 
all preserved. Ho was a leader of New York's "Liberty" party before 
1776, and served continuously through the war. 

Miles, Colonel Samuel. — Born March 22d, 1739, probably in Philadel- 
phia. Served in the French war. After the Revolution, held positions as 



Judge of the High Court of Errors, member of the Governor's Council, and 
Mayor of Philadelphia. He died at Cheltenham', Montgomery County, 
Pa., December 29th, 1805. 

Parry, Lieutenant-Colonel Caleb. — Killed on Long Island. See no- 
tice of him on page 196, Part I. A genealogy recently prepared by Richard 
Randolph Parry, Esq., of Philadelphia, contains much interesting personal 
history of the family. 

Piper, Lieutenant-Colonel James. — He was lieutenant-colonel of Miles' 
First Battalion, and " a very worthy gentleman." Taken on Long Island, 
and died in New York not long after the battle. Captain Peebles, of Miles', 
Captain Bowie and Lieutenant Butler, of Smallwood's, and Lieutenant 
Makepeace, of Huntington's, who were all wounded and taken prisoners, 
died afterwards in New York, says Fitch. •/ 

Rutgers, Lieutenant-Colonel Henry. — Of New York City. Brother 
of Harmanus Rutgers, killed on Long Island. He was connected with the 
army much of the time in the Commissary of Musters Department. Rutgers 
College takes its name from him. He left many Revolutionary papers, which 
have been unfortunately lost. 

Scott, General John M. — Born in New York In 1730 ; died September 
14th, 1784. He was the only child of John and Marian Morin Scott, and 
fourth in the line of descent from Sir John Scott, Baronet of Ancram, 
County Roxburgh, Scotland, who died in 1712. At the age of sixteen he 
graduated at Yale College in the class of 1746, and took up the profes- 
sion of law in New York, whero he rose steadily in practice and reputa- 
tion. With Wm. Smith, the historian of New York, and Wm. Livingston, 
he became identified with the Whig clement in the colony, and at an early 
date advocated principles which paved the way for the final opposition to 
ministerial measures. These three — Smith, Livingston, and Scott — became 
leaders at the bar, and the two latter also in politics. Scott's residence 
stood at about the corner of Thirty-third Street and Ninth Avenue, at 
appears from Ratzer's official map of the city and island in 1706-67, and 
contained 123 acres. At that date it was some three miles out of town. 
From papers still preserved it appears that, very soon after the Revolution, 
this fine estate, which had become embarrassed, was sold for $8250, and 
that as early as 1813 it was worth $100,000. Scott associated himself 
with enterprises that contributed to the progress and social advancement 
of the city, becoming in 1754 one of the founders of the Society for the 
Promotion of the Arts, and also of a City Library. From 1757 to 1762 he 
was alderman of the Out-ward of New York. He contributed to tin 
lVatch Tower and Reflector, and was the author of several official and liter- 
ary papers and reports during his lifetime. When the Revolutionary 
troubles opened, he was made one of the committee of one hundred citi- 
zens in 1775, took a foremost part against England's designs, and, as a 



powerful public speaker in favor of the colonial cause, might be called the 
Samuel Adams or James Otis of New York. As staled in the text, he be- 
came a member of the provincial committee and Congress in 1775-76, and 
brigadier-general of State troops in March, 1776, taking active part in the 
campaign around his native city. At the close of the year he offered his 
last month's salary to those of his troops who would remain in the service 
a few weeks longer, and served himself a month without pay. In 1777 
he was appointed secretary of the State, and continued in the public service 
in that capacity and as State senator and member of Congress until his 
death. His remains Ho buried .In Trinity Church-yard, near the line of 
Broadway, north of the church. 

Selden, Colonel Samuel. — Of Hadlyme, Conn. Son of Samuel and 
Deborah Dudley Selden. Born January nth, 1723. His grandfather was 
Thomas Selden, one of the original founders of Hartford. A genealogy of the 
family is in the course of preparation by Mr. Henry M. Selden, oJ Haddam 
Neck. Colonel Selden was taken prisoner in the Kip's Bay retreat, being pros- 
trated by the exertions of the day. He was confined in the present Register's 
building, in the City Hall Park, where he died of fever, " on Friday r.M., 
October nth, about three o'clock." In the latter pert of his sickness he was 
attended by Dr. Thacher, a British surgeon, who paid him every attention. 
He was buried in the Brick Church-yard. See chapter on " The Two Armies" 
for further reference. Among this officer's great-grandsons are Chief-Jus- 
tice Waite, Hon. Lyman Trumbull, General McDowell, Judge Selden of 
Rochester, Colonel Joseph Selden of Norwich, and many .others, the de- 
scendants being numerous. , 

Smith, Captain Robert. — Born in New York in 1752 ; of Scotch ances- 
try. Entered the counting-house of his brother, Alex. Robertson Smith, a 
wealthy merchant. In 1776 he raised a company of Scotsmen and sons of 
Scotsmen, and joined Malcom's New York Regiment. He was on Long Isl- 
and with Scott's brigade, and at White Plains received a severe contusion 
from a spent shot. Obliged by ill-health to retire from the service for a time, 
he appeared again as a volunteer at Monmouth, and fought on foot, having 
given up his horse to a general officer. After the war he settled in Philadel- 
phia, where he was a bank director for forty-eight years, holding also other 
offices of trust. He was a man of liberal disposition, a Presbyterian elder, 
and gave freely for all charitable purposes. 

Stirling, General Lord. — This officer's name was properly William 
Alexander. His father claimed the title of the Earl of Stirling, and he him- 
self continued it. There is this description of the general in Surgeon Wal- 
do's diary, kept at Valley Forge {Historical Magazine, vol. v.) : 

" Major-General Lord Stirling is a man of a very noble presence, and the 
most martial Appearance of any General in the Service ; he much resembles 
the Marquis of Granby — by his bald head — the make of his face, and figure 
of his Body. He is mild in his private conversation, and vociferous in the 




TlLGHMAN, Captain Tench. — Aid to Washington. Born near Easton, 
Talbot County, Md., December 25. 1744; died April 181I1, 17S6. From 
Maryland, Tilghman went to Philadelphia, became captain of a city military 
organization, and joined Washington as volunteer secretary and aid in Au- 
gust, 1776. He served with his chief through the war, participating in many 
battles, and having Washington's closest confidence. His rank as lieu- 
tenant-colonel was dated from April, 1777, by his own desire, that he might 
not outrank Hamilton and Meade, who had been appointed aids earlier 
in the year. His descendants preserve many relics of his Revolutionary 

Troup, Lieutenant Robert. — His father was an officer in the British 
Navy, and died before the Revolution. Troup graduated from Columbia (old 
King's) College in 1774, and after his capture on Long Island as one of the 
patrol at the Jamaica Pass was exchanged in December following, with a few 
others. In March, 1777, he accepted a captain-lieutenancy in the artillery, 
offered by Knox, but soon after joined General Gates' staff. In May, 1778, 
Gates wrote to Laurens, President of Congress : 

" Having neglected when I left York to recommend a proper person for 
D. A. General [deputy adjutant-general] to the army under my' command, 
I beg to mention Lieut Col: Robert Troup, and desire the Favor you will 
propose him to Congress for that office ; rny knowledge of his Honor, 
Merit, Integrity induces me apart from any personal regard, thus earnestly 
to wish his promotion." — MS. Letter. 

After the war, Troup studied law in New York, became intimate with 
Hamilton and Burr, and was one of the very few who retained his friendship 
for the latter after the duel. Colonel Troup was appointed the first United 
States District Judge for New York. 

Van Wagenen, Lieutenant Gerrit H. — Son of Huybert Van Wagenen 
and Angcnietje Vredenburg, was born in New York at No. 5 Beekman Slip 
(now Fulton Street), 1753, January 21st. He went to Canada in August, 
1775, as second lieutenant in the Eighth Company of the First Regiment of 
New York State troops under Colonel McDougall. Was at the storming of 
Quebec, in the columns of General Montgomery. In May, 1776, he was sent 
to New York, and then to Philadelphia, in charge of some prisoners. On 
returning to New York and finding that the British were landing on Long 
Island, he offered his services to General Sullivan, and was sent by him with 
four other officers to the Jamaica Pass, as described in the chapter on the bat- 
tle. The party were all taken prisoners, and he continued a prisoner twenty- 
two months, when he was exchanged. He then received an appointment in 
the Commissary of Prisoners Department, and continued in that office about 
three years. (For a full account of his services, see the " Gen. and Biog. 
Record," vol. viii., page 44). In 1783, March nth, he married Sarah, 
daughter of De